Fitness club instructor has filed a lawsuit against Life Time for back wages.
Alicia Schaeffer, a former Life Time group yoga instructor, is suing her employer for unpaid work she and other instructors were allegedly told to do before and after they taught classes. Schaeffer filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Life Time Inc. claiming that for “about eight years when she worked for Life Time’s Bloomington North fitness facility she and other hourly group fitness instructors were unpaid for work they did outside of their official class times.” The plaintiff’s attorneys are seeking class action status for the case, and a judge will have to determine if the case can move forward as a class action.
“In addition to teaching 60 minutes of class time, plaintiff’s job as group fitness instructor required her to perform work that preceded and followed each of her yoga classes. All group fitness instructors are similarly required to perform pre- and post-class work,” Schaeffer’s attorneys wrote in the complaint.
“Life Time’s instructor manual says trainers are expected to be in the studio 15 minutes before class with music playing from their own curated playlists,” according to court documents. “Instructors are also asked to clean up after classes, such as gathering towels and stacking mats. Altogether, group instructors are required to complete a number of tasks outside of class without being paid like wiping down equipment, arranging props, and attending training meetings.”
The suit was filed one day after Life Time executives notified the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development it would need to lay off about 300 employees “because of economic pressures it faces from gym closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.”
Club spokesperson Natalie Bushaw submitted a statement when the layoff was announced explaining, “When we closed, we hoped the clubs would reopen quickly. Subsequently, it took nearly three months to reopen approximately two-thirds of our clubs with continued uncertainty around the timing for reopening the remaining one-third of the clubs. These shutdowns inflicted considerable negative financial impact on our company, along with the suspension of nearly four years of new club and business development. Additionally, it may take some months before membership growth and traffic resume to normal levels. With this unforeseen business interruption and impact, we have implemented difficult, but necessary, action to reduce our operating expenses, including a 1 percent reduction in our total workforce. The vast majority of this impact is in our real estate, architecture and construction departments given the temporary suspension of new club and business development. All team members will have the opportunity to maintain their company-provided Life Time club membership through December 31, 2020. Additionally, those currently participating in our medical and dental coverage will have the opportunity to maintain these benefits at company expense through December 31, 2020.”
Regarding the lawsuit, she responded, “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves and stand by our employment practices.”
Life Time operates more than 150 health clubs in 41 markets across the U.S. It will lay off a total of 301 employees amid the coronavirus including 250 employees from its headquarters and an additional 51 employees from Life Time’s Millwork facilities in Chaska.