Custis Law, P.C. has filed a class action lawsuit against two Planet Fitness gyms for violations of California’s Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law. The defendants—Wingman, Inc. and Wingman Partners II, Inc. and their owners—operate the Planet Fitness gyms in Lancaster and Palmdale, California. The lead plaintiff is Levi Maldonado, a former Member Services Representative. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiff and all current and former employees who worked for either Planet Fitness in Palmdale or Lancaster at any time between March 18, 2015 and the present.
The complaint alleges that Planet Fitness (a) failed to pay minimum wages and overtime compensation for all hours worked because employees were required to work “off-the-clock” and not all working time was recorded; (b) failed to provide legally required, off-duty meal periods; (c) failed to reimburse employees for business-related expenses they incurred at Planet Fitness’s direction; (d) violated the employees’ rights to paid sick leave; (e) failed to provide accurate wage statements; (f) failed to pay wages when due at termination or resignation; and (g) violated California’s Private Attorneys General Act, commonly known as PAGA.
The class action is seeking all available remedies, including back wages, statutory penalties and civil penalties, on behalf of the current and former employees and the State of California. The class action lawsuit is pending in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. 19STCV09210.
Employers Cannot Shift The Cost Of Running Their Business To Their Employees
California law prohibits employers from shifting their cost of doing business and operating expenses on to their employees. Specifically, Labor Code Section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse the employees for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer.”
As alleged in the complaint, Planet Fitness required employees to incur business-related expenses in several ways:
- Planet Fitness required employees to spend their own money to obtain work uniforms;
- Planet Fitness required employees to spend their own money to launder their work uniforms; and
- Planet Fitness required employees to spend their own money to use their personal cell phones and data plans for work purposes.
California law regarding uniforms is clear: When an employer requires employees to wear a uniform—defined to include “wearing apparel and accessories of distinctive design or color”—the employer is required to provide and maintain the uniform. If an employee is required to obtain and/or maintain a work uniform, then the employee is incurring an expense that must be reimbursed.
California law regarding cell phone use is also clear: If an employee is required to make work-related calls on a personal cell phone, or to otherwise use a personal cell phone for work-related purposes, then the employee is incurring an expense that must be reimbursed. The complaint alleges that Planet Fitness failed to reimburse its employees for the expenses they incurred in obtaining and maintaining uniforms, and in using their cell phones for work purposes.
Off-The-Clock Work: Failing To Pay For Hours Worked But Not Recorded
Off-the-clock work is work that an employee does that is not recorded “on the clock” and is, thus, not properly compensated. If an employer requires employees to do anything after they’ve punched out for the day, or before they’ve punched in, the employees are working off-the-clock.
California employers are required to pay an employee for any time that the employee is subject to the employer’s control. That means that an employer cannot require employees to work off-the-clock.
The Planet Fitness complaint alleges that the gyms required employees to work off-the-clock in three ways: (1) the gyms required employees to review and respond to emails off-the-clock on a daily basis; (2) the gyms required employees to take their own time off-the-clock to wash their work uniforms; and (3) the gyms required employees to use their WhenToWork mobile app frequently while they were off-the-clock for business purposes.
The Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA)
PAGA is a law that allows a current or former employee to represent other current and former employees whose rights under California’s Labor Code have been violated by their employer. In effect, PAGA deputizes an employee to become a “private attorney general.” In that role, the employee represents both the State of California and all other “aggrieved employees.”
PAGA allows the lead aggrieved employee, or plaintiff, to seek civil penalties for the employer’s violations of the Labor Code. Those civil penalties are awarded in addition to the unpaid wages and statutory penalties available to current and former employees under the Labor Code. In the Planet Fitness case, the lead plaintiff is seeking civil penalties for alleged violations of Labor Code Sections 201, 202, 203, 204, 226, 226.7, 233, 234, 246(i), 512(a), 1174(d), 1182.12, 1194, 1197, 1198 and 2802. Any civil penalties recovered will be divided between the State of California and the aggrieved employees.
For more information about the lawsuit against the Planet Fitness gyms in Lancaster and Palmdale, California, or for questions about other Planet Fitness gyms, call (213) 863-4276 to speak to an experienced California employment attorney today.
About Custis Law, P.C.
Custis Law, P.C. is an employment law firm with offices located in Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Bernardino County. The firm represents employees on a contingency basis for violations involving unpaid wages, meal and rest break violations, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and other types of unlawful workplace conduct.