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Fitness Clubs Under Scrutiny for Payment Practices

Courtney Cameron

The Minnesota-based Life Time Fitness health club, a subsidiary of the Healthy Way of Life Company, has agreed to pay $976,458 in back wages and liquidated damages after a federal investigation found club practices to be in violation of minimum wage requirements outlined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. An announcement Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Labor said the amount will be paid out to 16,000 employees in 26 states.

The investigation found that Life Time Fitness deducted the cost of uniforms from employee wages with the result that wages fell below the minimum required wage. David King, Minneapolis district director for the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, told the Pioneer Press that employers have the right to deduct the cost of uniforms, so long as it does not drop employee wages below the required minimum.

Life Time Fitness has also agreed to pay a $99,825 fine for the Fair Labor Standards Act violation.

In a similar case, employees of GoodLife Fitness of Ontario have leveled a class-action lawsuit against the company for the sum of $60 million. The suit alleges that GoodLife Fitness systematically failed to compensate workers for certain types of independent work. The suit also claims that company policies unlawfully prevent employees from claiming overtime pay.

According to a representative plaintiff for the case, electronic time sheets filled out by employees can be altered by club management, preventing workers from claiming hours spent on required tasks such as class preparation, new client prospecting, and filing paperwork. GoodLife has allegedly failed to compensate thousands of employees for hundreds of hours of similar work.

A legal representative for GoodLife employees told The Star, “These are precarious workers, these are young workers, these are in many cases part-time workers, workers who face precarious schedules. It’s really crucial for workers in these situations who face challenges standing up to these sorts of policies alone to come together and defend that principle that they should be paid for all their hours of work.”

In an emailed statement to The Star, a GoodLife Fitness spokesperson wrote, “We disagree with the allegations outlined in this claim. We are currently in the process of reviewing and assessing the allegations so that we may defend ourselves.”

The hearing is expected to take place next year.

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