SoulCycle is a brand of spinning or indoor cycling classes currently available in New York and California. SoulCycle has fourteen locations and riders pay $34 per class. The week’s classes are released for reservations on Mondays at 12:00 p.m. and fill within seconds. Soul Cycle has eighty (80) or so people who audition to be instructors each training period, and it accepts eight to twelve (8-12) of those who audition. The instructors then have to pass an eight (8) week training program. The training program is unpaid but the instructors do not have to pay for the course. Once the employees complete the training, and are determined to “pass,” they are assigned to eight (8) classes per week and are given health insurance. The instructors are not allowed to teach at any other gyms but are compensated from $125 to $150 per class or about $1,200 per week.
Nick Oram was a SoulCycle master instructor and employee from April 16, 2009 through April 15, 2013. Mr. Oram filed an employment class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York alleging that he and other SoulCycle instructors were not paid in a manner that was consistent with New York and California laws. SoulCycle has built its reputation by providing what it describes as the “best instructors and staff, trained to deliver unique services and personal attention to all levels of riders.” However, the complaint alleges that SoulCycle does not compensate their instructors for the hours spent in training, preparing for classes, developing routines, attending meetings, leading special event classes, or engaging in marketing. In fact, the instructors are only paid for time spent teaching their classes, or approximately forty-five (45) minutes. The claims allege that SoulCycle is not paying the prevailing minimum wage for all hours worked, not paying wages for certain hours worked whatsoever, making unlawful wage deductions, failing to reimburse for business expenses and failing to provide accurate wage statements. Mr. Oram stated that he was not compensated in any manner besides a flat rate for the forty-five (45) minutes spent teaching the class. Mr. Oram’s Complaint alleged that he would spend approximately fifteen (15) to twenty-five (25) hours per week on uncompensated tasks. He was also required to purchase and was never reimbursed for various personal property, including MP3 players, iPods, music, CD’s, computers, mixing software, and travel expenses.
The New York Labor Law requires covered employers to pay all non-exempt employees the prevailing minimum wage for all hours worked. The California Labor law also requires that an employer shall refund his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties. Ultimately the lawsuit will come down to a question: Was Mr. Oram a strict hourly employee or an employee who performed eight times a week? Is a fitness instructor to be considered like a professional actor or musician, in that the time spent developing their craft, practicing lines and promoting all of which is critical to the quality of the performance is largely unpaid? Similarly, the minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour; if Mr. Oram worked forty (40) hour per week, at minimum wage, he would be compensated a gross salary of $320.00 per week, far less than the $1,200, he was formerly paid. New York’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour or a gross check of $290.00 per week. By comparison, Colorado’s minimum wage is $7.78 per hour or $311.20 per week. Mr. Oram’s case was filed in May 2013 and has not yet been tried. If you have a question about your compensation, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights.