A group of Gold’s Gym employees have filed a FLSA collective action.  Their theory, similar to a rising number of such suits, is that they were required to work off the clock.  The employees claim they have to work between 50-60 hours per week, but are only paid for forty.  The case is entitled Lane et. al. v. Gold’s Gym International Inc., and was filed in federal court in Texas.

In a somewhat ironic twist, the Complaint notes that the Company has a policy prohibiting employees from working more than 40 hours a week without prior approval and so, to comply with this policy, Gold’s general managers allegedly (and routinely) required workers to first clock out and then continue to work off the clock or, allegedly, to falsify their time records to show that they worked fewer hours than they actually did..

The lead plaintiff (still a current employee) alleges that he (and other supposedly similarly situated employees) were compelled to make monthly sales targets and to also train fitness consultants. Those duties required that they often had to work in excess of forty hours, but the Company typically refused to acknowledge any overtime claims.  The plaintiffs claim that this was a company-wide policy, which, under principles of FLSA collective actions, gives the class the commonality and similarity needed for conditional (and ultimate) certification.

On this point, the Complaint asserts that “although the named plaintiffs were employed by Gold’s at two of its San Antonio locations, sales managers at its facilities across San Antonio and the United States are believed to have all worked similar hours and were compensated under Gold’s common policy/scheme of not paying sales managers one and one-half of their regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.”

There has been a veritable explosion of these off-the-clock collective/class cases, in many different industries.  We will see where this goes.  The institutional problem in the retail industry, any retail industry, is that oftentimes labor budgets are set tightly and managers (at all levels) are judged by whether they stay within these budgets.  It is this pressure that may drive the “need” for off-the-clock work.  There are procedures that management can implement, to both stay within budget, as well as the law, but a keen self-scrutiny of compensation practices and corporate goals is necessary.