The Week (US)

A shakedown racket for job seekers


David Lazarus

If companies are having such a hard time filling positions, why are some charging as much as $1,800 for training? asked David Lazarus. Tatiana Sarasty, a resident of Brentwood, Calif., loved her sessions at Pure Barre, “a nationwide chain of boutique fitness centers.” When her local facility emailed saying they were “looking for instructor­s” with classes reopening, Sarasty applied. The franchise owner informed her that “applicants must undergo at least four days of training” at a cost of $1,800, “of which $550 will be refunded after ‘an active year of teaching.’” New hires are also “expected to practice Pure Barre’s fitness techniques for ‘about five hours

a day for a month’” on their own time. Situations like this have come up before. The pizza chain Papa John’s agreed to pay $3.4 million last year for failing to compensate workers for mandatory training. Multiple lawyers I spoke with said Pure Barre’s practice similarly seems to violate California law against charging employees or applicants for their own training. Pure Barre claims its training fee was part of its own, unique “certificat­ion program.” None of the lawyers I spoke with “found that convincing.” This is exactly the kind of thing the law is supposed to block, because “getting a job shouldn’t be a shakedown racket.”

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