- CorePower Yoga has agreed to pay $1,492,500 to settle allegations brought by a class of 2,180 yoga instructors who alleged they were not paid for all hours worked, in violation of both Illinois and federal law (Osterholt v. CorePower Yoga, LLC, No. 16-CV-05089 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 4, 2019)).
- In their complaint, the instructors claimed they were not paid for "essential and integral" job duties, including preparing to teach classes, developing and practicing their sequences, compiling music playlists, communicating with customers, and reading and writing work-related emails.
The average award per class member was just over $336, and more than 100 class members will receive over $1,000. The settlement also includes policy changes at CorePower Yoga, including the creation of pre-prepped sequences and playlists, as well as how-to videos, which will reduce the amount of prep time required of instructors.
Recently, employers have had to settle allegations of auto-deducting things like meal breaks from workers' paychecks, as was the case for two California employers earlier this month. But the CorePower case highlights a related yet different wage and hour problem: failing to compensate workers for all time worked when some tasks (such as prep work before a yoga class) fall outside the scope of the employees' main job (teaching yoga classes).
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nonexempt workers must be paid for all time worked (including overtime pay, as applicable). For certain types of activities, however, the law may be a bit murkier. Time spent doing activities before the beginning of, or after the end of, an employee's principal work activities — officially, "preliminary" and "postliminary" activities — are sometimes considered hours worked and sometimes not, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court case concluded that only principal activities are considered compensable time — the tasks that are an "indispensable" and "integral" part of a worker's duties. The court ruled that the post-shift security screening activities considered in that case did not meet this standard, even though they took nearly half an hour every day.
Employers generally don't have to worry about paying for tiny amounts of time worked (the legal term is de minimis), but it can be a slippery slope.