A wage-related civil suit in U.S. District Court litigation could add as many as 6,000 current and former Life Time Fitness personal trainers and other employees to the case.
Lawyers representing four former Life Time Fitness personal trainers – Jared Steger, David Ramsey, John Chrispens and Mai Henry – requested to organize a nationwide collective action through mail notice in a motion filed with the Northern District of Illinois court on Sept. 30.
If the court grants the collective action, the notice would be sent to Pilates instructors, dietary technicians and potentially other similar positions in Life Time Fitness' personal training department. The collective action would cover employees who were not paid the minimum wage and/or overtime from July 7, 2011, to present.
The defendants named in the case are Life Time Fitness Inc, Chanhassen, Minnesota; LTF Club Management Company LLC, Delaware; LTF Club Operations Company Inc, Chanhassen; and up to 10 yet to be identified individuals.
The plaintiffs allege various claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the California Labor Codes and Business and Professions code, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment Collection Act, according to a consolidated 12-count, 47-page complaint filed Jan. 15. The plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial.
The plaintiffs are seeking past-due wages and an equivalent amount in liquidated damages for putative class members who opt into the potential collective action under the FLSA.
The plaintiffs claim they were not paid the minimum wage for work performed, were not paid overtime wages for overtime work and were required to work off the clock without payment. Life Time Fitness had "actual and constructive" knowledge that the plaintiffs' hourly rates were diluted to the point where they were paid less than the federal and state minimum wages, the complaint alleges.
Life Time Fitness' personal trainers were required to work more than eight hours in a workday and more than 40 hours in a work week performing duties that included training clients, attending mandatory meetings, cleaning equipment and completing tutorials, quizzes, videos, certifications and training courses, the complaint alleges.
Life Time Fitness' personal trainers are classified as exempt employees under FLSA Section 7(i), according to deposition testimony from Life Time Senior Manager of Compensation and Human Resources Information Systems Derrick Boaz.
Under FLSA Section 7(i), retail or service employers must meet three conditions to not pay employees overtime at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay after 40 hours: the employee must be employed by a retail or service establishment; the employee's regular rate of pay must exceed 1.5 times the applicable minimum wage for every hour worked in a workweek in which overtime hours are worked; and more than half the employee's total earnings in a representative period must consist of commissions.
Life Time pays its personal trainers entirely through commission, according to a memo in support of the collective action motion request filed by the plaintiffs. If an employee does not make enough in commissions to cover 1.5 times the minimum wage for hours worked, Life Time pays a temporary "draw" and deducts that temporary amount from a later paycheck, according to the motion.
Steger and Ramsey, who are Illinois residents, allege wrongful discharge for complaining about Life Time Fitness' wage practices to managers and supervisors. They were the first to file suit on July 7, 2014.
Gentile and Henry, who are California residents, worked more than 12 hours per day and seven consecutive days without being paid double their regular pay rate as required by California law, the complaint alleges.
Lawyers representing the Life Time Fitness defendants rejected the plaintiffs' claims in a 35-page answer and defenses to the complaint filed Sept. 24. Life Time Fitness denied the plaintiffs' entitlement to any relief, entitlement to proceed as a collective action under the FLSA and entitlement to any relief under supplemental state laws.
Life Time Fitness requested the court dismiss the complaint in its entirety and award costs related to defense of the case and any other relief the court deems appropriate. Judge Sharon Coleman has yet to rule on the answer and defense.
A request from Club Industry seeking comment from Life Time Fitness on this case was not immediately returned Friday.