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My girlfriend went to a three hour meeting required by her company and was told by her supervisor that she'd be paid. After the fact, she found out she wouldn't be paid. A fellow employee reached out to the main office to ask why they weren't being paid and was told since it was a "mandatory training" they didn't have to pay them. Are there any legal guidelines to protect employees from this sort of thing?

This is in the US, Louisiana to be specific. Edit: she's paid by the hour and is treated as a contractor. I didn't think about that originally, sorry not to have included it sooner. Also this is a smallish (spanning maybe 10 cities) company, there isn't an HR dept that she's aware of. They get state funding if that matters at all, just wanted to make sure I included everything.

  • @JoeStrazzere she was told by her supervisor the same thing her co-worker was told from the main office: They didnt have to pay her because it was "a mandatory training, not a meeting" – Viziionary Apr 20 '17 at 18:51
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    What exactly was agreed to be paid? Are you referring to the cost of the training, or food and commute expenses and such? I am not a lawyer and I don't know about US practices, but as a salaried employee here, I am never paid anything "extra" to attend any training, mandatory or otherwise. The company bears the cost of the training, but commuting to the training location is entirely paid by me. – Masked Man Apr 20 '17 at 19:07
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    You mean she is working on per-hourly basis, and not salaried? Is she a regular employee or a contractor? If it is the latter, I would imagine the contractor would be expected to bear the costs of the skills required for the training (maybe this could apply to regular employee as well). However, that should have been made clear upfront, so something does sound fishy here. – Masked Man Apr 20 '17 at 19:34
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    As far as I know from reading the (US based) answers here, if you are paid wages on a per-hourly basis, any time you spend for the company work, including the time taken to commute from location A to location B is billable to the company, whether it is for training or just enjoying a cup of coffee with the customer. – Masked Man Apr 20 '17 at 19:36
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    If she's a contractor, she should invoice the hours as she normally would. Also, legislation that "protects employees" does not protect her, because she isn't one. Some clients are going to have sticky fingers in terms of doling out the cash, but they have to pay her for her time. Whether or not they truly needed her there is irrespective of the fact that she was. – sleddog Apr 21 '17 at 13:35
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This probably doesn't apply to exempt employees:

Does my employer have to pay me for time spent on required training?

Yes. If you are required to attend a training program for work, you must be paid for that time. For example, if your employer requires all new employees to attend an orientation training or requires current employees to attend sexual harassment training, that time must be paid. If you have to travel to take a training program offsite, your travel time must be paid as well. For more information on your rights to be paid for time you don't actually spend working, see Nolo's article When Work-Related Activities Count as "Hours Worked."

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There is some ambiguity with the term contractor, so I'm going to assume that she invoices the company for the time she spends working for them rather than that she is a term employee that is on contract.

She should invoice for time that an employee of "Your girlfriend Inc" spent on a task requested by the company. That's how business works. If they fail to pay her invoice, she should escalate the issue, through management and to court if required.

This sort of nonsense with contractors gets a lot of companies in trouble, especially when there is no HR department. Either they are contractors and are treated as contractors OR they are employees and they are treated as employees. Mixing of these expectations will eventually lead to deviations from labor or contractual law.

  • My understanding of the legal setup is fairly ambiguous as well, so I'm unable to clarify (and she doesnt seem to know the difference either). Either way, I guess over 3 hours, if she escalates the issue she stands to gain little and risks being fired for trying. She's fine with ignoring it, I just dislike seeing a company get away with screwing someone out of pay. – Viziionary Apr 21 '17 at 15:49
  • She should be able to at least deduct the costs from her taxes if she is not reimbursed by the company. – John K. Apr 21 '17 at 16:29
  • @Viziionary I'd suggest having her document the situation as well as possible with any evidence in the matter (requests to attend, proof she did attend, denial of payment, etc) on a non-work computer. Just because she wouldn't push the issue today, doesn't mean she will never want to push it. – Myles Apr 21 '17 at 16:30
  • I sugggest your girlfriend figures the legal situation out. – Donald Apr 22 '17 at 2:25
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If the employee is in fact an employee and not contracted or otherwise exempt under FEDERAL laws, then they have to pay for any mandatory meetings or trainings. http://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/flsa/fair-labor-standards-act-when-meeting-and-training-time-is-considered-hours-worked/

Louisiana follows the federal laws and doesn't have laws specific to their own state.

If the meeting is voluntary, then the employer is not required to pay.

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