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Complaint against 24 Hour Fitness alleges arbitration policy is unlawful

The National Labor Relations Board today issued a complaint alleging that 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. violated federal labor law by insisting that all employment-related disputes be resolved by individual arbitration.

The California-based corporation, which operates fitness centers across the country, requires employees to agree in writing, as a condition of employment, to forego any rights to collective or class action lawsuits or arbitrations.  Such a requirement violates protections guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act, according to the complaint issued by the agency’s San Francisco Regional Office.

An investigation was prompted by a charge filed by an employee at the 24 Hour Fitness center in San Ramon, California. Since at least the summer of 2010, the company has enforced its no-class-action policy by asserting it in litigation brought by employees in numerous cases, seven of which are cited in the complaint. In each case, employees, who are not represented by a union, sought to bring workplace-related claims, such as wage and hour violations, on a class-wide basis. In response, 24 Hour Fitness sought to compel the employees to submit their common claims to individual arbitrations, citing the policy in its handbook.

The complaint calls for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on June 11, and seeks an order requiring the company’s fitness centers nationwide to stop maintaining and enforcing that portion of the policy that prohibits collective and class action, and to notify all judicial and arbitral forums in which it has opposed such action. 

In D.R. Horton, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 184, decided earlier this year, the Board found that the employer, a home building company, violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by maintaining, as a condition of employment, a mandatory arbitration agreement that did not allow its employees to file joint, class, or collective employment-related claims in any forum, arbitral or judicial.

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