A trainer for Camp Gladiator, Austin, Texas, has filed a class action lawsuit against the fitness boot camp franchise over alleged unpaid wages.
Shannon Schoellhorn filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Dallas on July 15 alleging Camp Gladiator violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay minimum wage to intern trainers and failing to pay overtime to primary trainers. The suit, which seeks class certification and jury trial, also seeks damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DPTA). The complaint can be read at the bottom of this page.
Camp Gladiator's attorneys are reviewing the allegations, but the company's policy is not to comment on pending litigation, a company spokesperson told Club Industry.
The suit contends that Camp Gladiator interns, who are considered interns because they are in a Camp Gladiator training program to become a primary trainer, were not paid any wages for compensable, non-exempt work performed for Camp Gladiator in a "willful" violation of the FLSA, according to the complaint. The internships can last from six to 10 weeks, depending on how long potential trainers can complete the assigned tasks. The complaint alleges that intern trainers are not classified as employees as they should be, and Camp Gladiator does not meet Department of Labor standards for unpaid internships.
Prospective Camp Gladiator trainers must first apply in writing to the company and attend an information session where there are often field interviews, according to the complaint. Trainers who make it through these two steps are invited to begin the unpaid internship, which consists of at least 14 required tasks that must be completed to become a primary trainer, according to the complaint. Those tasks include sales, workout program creation, attending all-trainer meetings with current trainers and submission of a business plan, according to the complaint.
After individuals pass the internship, they become primary trainers. The suit contends Camp Gladiator misclassifies its primary trainers as independent contractors under factors set by the Texas Workforce Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. Camp Gladiator does not pay its primary trainers overtime after 40 hours of work in a week, and the company does not keep records of employee time worked or make attempts to comply with the FLSA, according to the complaint.
The suit claims that Camp Gladiator is a "business opportunity" under the Texas Business Opportunity Act (BOA) but is not registered as such with the Texas Secretary of State, which is a violation of the DPTA. Camp Gladiator disseminates statements that materially misrepresent the character of service it offers to potential trainers and represents that its service has characteristics and benefits that it does not have, according to the complaint, detailing statements made on digital platforms.
The classes proposed in the lawsuit would be interns and primary trainers. The intern class would cover all individuals who performed any amount of unpaid work as a Camp Gladiator Intern. The primary trainer class would cover all individuals who have performed more than 40 hours of work in a single week but were not paid overtime beyond the 40 hours.
Schoellhorn and any potential intern or trainer class members are seeking to recover an amount equal to the overtime payments with an equal amount as liquidated damages, attorney's fees, costs and pre- and post-judgment interest. The class period for both interns and trainers begins three years before the date an individual class member opts in to the class by filing a consent form with the court.
Schoellhorn also is seeking declarations that Camp Gladiator's interns and trainers are non-exempt employees under the FLSA and permanent injunctions to be entered against Camp Gladiator. The permanent injunctions would formally reclassify Camp Gladiator interns and trainers as non-exempt employees, notification of the reclassification to trainers and interns, and ensure Camp Gladiator is complying with the reclassification.
Under the DPTA claim, Schoellhorn is seeking additional treble damages and an injunction under the Texas Business & Communication Code. The injunction would require that Camp Gladiator comply with the BOA by registering with the Texas Secretary of State, amend all trainer recruiting materials to accurately describe the nature of the primary trainer opportunity, and cease use of all inaccurate or misleading trainer recruitment materials, according to the complaint.