Custis Law, P.C. has filed two class action lawsuits against twenty-five Crunch Fitness gyms for violations of California’s Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law. Harman Fitness owns twenty-three of the Crunch Fitness gyms, and manages all of the defendant Crunch Fitness gyms along with Fitness Club Management. The lead plaintiff is Jordan Coutcher, a former Member Services Representative and Assistant General Manager. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiff and all current and former employees who worked for one or more of the following Crunch Fitness gyms in California at any time between June 3, 2018 and the present:
- Bakersfield Fitness, LLC
- Canoga Park Fitness, LLC
- Cerritos Fitness & Health, LLC
- Chino Fitness, LLC
- Corona Health & Fitness, LLC
- DB Health & Fitness, LLC
- Hemet Fitness, LLC
- La Mirada Fitness, LLC
- La Verne Fitness, LLC
- Lakewood Fitness, LLC
- Lancaster Fitness, LLC
- Long Beach Fitness, LLC
- Moreno Valley Fitness, LLC
- Murrieta Fitness, LLC
- North Riverside Fitness, LLC
- Northridge Fitness, LLC
- Norwalk Fitness, LLC
- Rancho Cucamonga Fitness, LLC
- San Dimas Fitness, LLC
- Santa Maria Health & Fitness, LLC
- Simi Valley Fitness, LLC
- Temecula Fitness, LLC,
- Thousand Oaks Fitness, LLC
- Van Nuys Fitness, LLC
- XI Enterprise, Inc.
The class action complaints allege that the Crunch Fitness gyms (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 provide legally required, off-duty rest periods (d) failed to reimburse employees for business-related expenses they incurred at Crunch Fitness’s direction; (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 two class action lawsuits are pending in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case Nos. 22STCV18360 and 22STCV18386.
Time Shaving: When Employers Edit Time Sheets To Reduce An Employee’s Time
“Time shaving” refers to the unlawful practice of editing an employee’s time sheets to eliminate time. For example, some unscrupulous employers deliberately edit their employees’ time cards to delete any record of overtime hours. For example, if an employee worked 8 hours and 6 minutes, the employer may change the employee’s time card to show that the employee worked only 8 hours.
Other unscrupulous employers edit their employees’ time cards to eliminate meal period penalties. In California, for example, employers are required to provide employees with an off-duty, thirty-minute meal break before the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work. If the employer only provides a late meal break, the employer has violated California law and is required to pay the employee an extra hour of pay as a penalty for its failure to provide a timely meal break. To avoid paying that penalty, some employers deliberately change their employees’ time records so that it appears that the employee received a timely meal break when, in fact, they did not.
The Crunch Fitness class action complaints allege that the gyms engaged in both forms of time shaving: (1) deliberately editing time records to eliminate hours worked including overtime hours; and (2) intentionally editing time records to delete any record of missed, late and/or shortened meal periods.
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. If an employer requires employees to work during their 10-minute rest periods or their 30-minute meal periods, the employees are also 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 Crunch Fitness class action complaints alleges that the Crunch Fitness gyms required employees to work off-the-clock in various ways including that (1) the gyms edit employees’ time records to eliminate hours worked or require employees to edit their own time cards to reduce the amount of time they had worked; (2) the gyms require employees to work off-the-clock during rest and meal periods; (3) the gyms require employees to work off-the-clock to complete mandatory training; and (4) the gyms require employees at the time of closing to clock out and then complete closing procedures after clocking out.
Rest and Meal Periods Violations and Premium/Penalty Wages
California law requires employers to provide most employees with paid, off-duty 10-minute rest periods and off-duty 30-minute meal periods each workday. Employees that work more than 3.5 hours are entitled to one paid 10-minute rest period. Employees that work for than 6.0 hours are entitled to a second 10-minute rest period. Employees that work shifts of five (5) or more hours are entitled to a timely, uninterrupted thirty (30) minute meal period prior to the end of their fifth hour of work.
The California Supreme Court has determined that an employer must “relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time, and relieve their employees of all duties – including the obligation that an employee remain on call. A rest period, in short, must be a period of rest.” Augustus, et al. v. ABM Security Services, Inc. (2016) 2 Cal. 5th 257, 269-270 (emphasis added). That same rule applies to meal periods. Under California law, an employer also cannot require employees to remain on the job site during rest and meal periods.
If an employer like Crunch Fitness fails to provide legally-compliant rest and meal periods to its employees, the employer is obligated “to pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest or recovery period is not provided.” Cal. Lab. Code § 226.7. Employees that do not receive both a non-compliant rest and meal period are entitled to two additional hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest or recovery period is not provided.
If an employee works four-hour shifts for five days in a workweek, that employee is entitled to one paid, entirely off-duty 10-minute rest each work day. If the employee is paid $16 per hour and is never provided a compliant rest period, the employer owes the employee an additional $80.00 each work week ($16.00 of premium wages for each rest period violation x five work days). Those wages can add up. For one year, the premium wages for five rest period violations per week for an employee making $16.00 total $4,160.
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. The PAGA law authorizes an employee to act as 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, 510, 512, 558, 1102.5 1174(d), 1182.12, 1194, 1197, 1197.1, 1198, and 2802. Any civil penalties recovered will be divided between the State of California and the aggrieved employees.
For more information about the lawsuits against the Crunch Fitness gyms listed above, 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.