If during an mandatory training session that seems to fail the four factor test the employer directs the part time employees to eat at a certain establishemnt at a certain time, is the employer obligated to pay for their meals–AND rehearsal/training?

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If during an mandatory training session that seems to fail the four factor test the employer directs the part time employees to eat at a certain establishemnt at a certain time, is the employer obligated to pay for their meals–AND rehearsal/training?

I am an actor who was hired as part of the cast in a murder mystery dinner show. We each play a designated role in the show, and also serve as the wait staff. We receive a set performance fee per show plus whatever tips our customers leave us. We were required to attend an eight hour training session which included rehearsal of the show as well as service training. The employer called them ’empowerments’ but we were required to be there, and the empowerments were very specific. About midway through the session, the employer directed us to the main dining area we were rehearsing in one of the banquet rooms where the show will be performeddfor lunch. I asked if we were restricted to particular menu items. The employer said ‘Have anything you want’. I responded, ‘are you paying?’. He Answered ‘no’. Incidentally the employer has been emphatic about the fact we are employees, and not independent contractors. He states he is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
We have another 4 hour uncompensatedrehearsal tomorrow. I am not an attorney, but it seems we should be paid for rehearsals/training.

Asked on May 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

All work time is compensable. If you are paid a salary, then this time is covered by your salary. If you are an hourly employee, then you must receive wages for all hours worked. And mandatory training constitutes work. Further, to the extent that such training puts you ocer 40 hours in your work week, entitles you to overtime pay (if you are an "non-exempt", typically hourly, worker). To enforce your rights here, you can either sue your employer in small claims court or file a wage complaint with your state's department of labor. Here is a link to a site that will explain further: https://labor.mo.gov/DLS/MinimumWage/file_complaint

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The employer does not have to pay for the meals (an employer can require  employees to attend functions at restaurants, catering halls, etc. and not pay for food), but *does* have to pay for your time. Mandatory training, regardless of what the employer calls it, is still work time, since it is something you are required to do by the employer for his purposes: that is work. If you are salaried, you'd be paid for that day, as if it were any other workday; if you are hourly, you must be paid for the actual hours of training (and overtime, whenever you work more then 40 hours in a week). If you are not paid for the training time, you could file a complaint with the state department of labor and/or sue (e.g. in small claims court) for the money. Contrary to what Mr. Harvard Law School stated, there is no  unpaid work time.


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