More employers than ever are providing training, workshops, and learning opportunities for their staff. Is an employee entitled to payment for their time spent attending training? Yes, as long as the training is related to the employee’s job, required by the employer, and conducted during regular work hours. In some cases, employers unlawfully deny compensation for the time their employees spend attending training sessions. Wage and hour abuses are all too common in New York City. When employers fail to compensate their employees who work for an hourly wage for the hours they spend at work-related training, they might be violating the law.
Has your employer required you to attend workshops, training, or seminars without paying you to do so? The Lipsky Lowe LLP experienced wage and hour attorneys can help you determine whether you have a legal claim against your employer. Over our 30 plus years of practicing employment law, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients stand up against employer abuses. If your employer engaged in unpaid trainings, we will use our in-depth knowledge of state and federal employment law to fight on your behalf.
When Are Employers Legally Required to Pay Their Employees for Training?
Generally, when a training session is mandatory or required by the employer, the employee must receive compensation for attending the training, lecture, meeting, or activity. Typically when the employer requires the training under its authority, it is considered mandatory training.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth guidelines as to when employers must pay employees for training. The FLSA employs a four-part test to determine what kinds of training activities an employer can expect employees to attend without compensation. According to the FLSA, employers must always compensate employees for coursework or training unless all of the following statements are true:
- Participation or attendance at the training is not required for the job and is voluntary
- The employee takes part in the training outside of regular work hours
- The training is not related to the employee’s job
- The employee performs no work during the training
An Employer Must Pay Compensation When Training Is Job-Related
If all of the four conditions listed above are true, then the employer does not have a legal duty under the FLSA to compensate their employees. Whether an employee’s job requires particular training depends on the job description and requirements of the employee’s position. For example, if an employer requires all employees to attend a two-hour training about preventing sexual harassment, that employee is entitled to compensation for two hours of work. In the employee’s current position, he is required to attend the training along with every other employee.
In many cases, employers only promote employees with college degrees to management positions. A non-management employee might decide to become a manager and begin taking college classes to earn a college degree. In this case, an employer does not need to compensate that employee for their time in college classes. The employer, in this instance, is not required to pay for college classes because earning a degree is not necessary for the employee to maintain his or her non-management level job.
We’ve seen a trend in employers asking employees to attend training, meetings, or other professional development activities during the employee’s lunch hours. An employer might state that these meetings are voluntary, but perhaps there expect employees to attend. Despite the meetings being voluntary, employers might promote an employee who attends the meetings and not promote one that doesn’t even if they have the same experience and skill set. If the training is also related to your job duties, the training may not be voluntary under the FLSA. In this case, the employer might be required to offer additional compensation to hourly employees for attendance.
New Yorkers Can File an Unpaid Trainings Claim
Employees can file an unpaid wage complaint under the federal FLSA with the Wage and Hour Division of the federal Department of Labor. New Yorkers also have the option of filing an unpaid wage claim with the New York Department of Labor. After submitting the appropriate claim form, the Department of Labor will investigate the complaint, then hold a hearing. Successful claimants will recover any wages their employer owes them.
Successful Department of Labor claimants can collect their unpaid wages along with an additional “liquidated damages” sum. If a wage claim includes overtime, meal break, day of rest, or minimum wage violations, you can also claim liquid damages. If you work full-time and have attended unpaid trainings, your time spent in training sessions could be considered unpaid overtime work.
Your amount of liquid damages will be equal to 100% of unpaid wage claims in liquidated damages. For example, if the Department of Labor finds that your employer owes you $1,500 for unpaid overtime, you will receive an additional $1,500 in liquidated damages for a total of $3,000. According to New York state law, you have six years to file a claim for unpaid wages through the New York Department of Labor.
New Yorkers can also choose to file a civil employment lawsuit for unpaid wages. Whether you submit a department of labor claim or file a civil suit, hiring an experienced New York employment law attorneys is wise. An employment attorney will help ensure that you submit correct paperwork, evidence, and forms.
Contact Our NYC Unpaid Trainings Attorney
If you’re in New York City and your employer sent you to unpaid trainings, you may be entitled to compensation. You are likely worried that filing a claim may jeopardize your employment. Thankfully, employers cannot discriminate against you or terminate your position because you file an employment claim against them.
We understand how challenging, and frustrating working for free can become. Have you been attending work-related training required for your job? If so, your employer probably has a legal obligation to pay you for your unpaid wages and to begin paying you for training in the future.
Our skilled employment law attorneys will help you determine the best course of action against your employer. Our employment attorneys have a proven track record of securing payment for unpaid wages as well as injunctions restraining employers from further violating the FLSA. Contact our New York City offices to set up your initial consultation today.