Careful! It’s a TRAP
Training Repayment Provisions are plaguing the Modern-Day Workforce

Frustrated man with hand on his forehead

Many would believe that being trained to do your job correctly is a part of the onboarding process, but some employers would consider training new employees to be a luxury. More and more employers are finding ways to lock their employees into long-term contracts by using what is called Training Repayment Agreement Provisions. Yes, a TRAP.

Training Repayment Agreement Provisions

Employers use these TRAPs to discourage and prohibit employees from quitting or leaving a job under any circumstances without incurring some financial loss. Employees who undergo rigorous training to handle their job properly can sometimes be bound by these TRAPs to serve a specific amount of time (arbitrarily delegated by the employer) at their place of work. Employees that attempt to leave before their time is up can be saddled with debt up to their elbows from the cost it took to train them!

Countless Americans have experienced a miserable workplace at some point. Employees struggle with attaining a livable wage, satisfactory working conditions, and an employer that cares about their wellbeing. It is no secret that people in the workforce are leaving their jobs more frequently now more than ever in search of these types of conditions. But instead of trying to provide a safe and prosperous environment for their employees, some employers decide to make the cost of leaving the job far more painful than the cost of staying.

Be Wary of PetSmart and other Companies

A Pet groomer combing a dog's fluffy fur.

California Resident BreAnn Scally has first-hand experience with the effects of TRAPs in employment contracts. Scally, only 24, spent the better part of a year bathing and grooming dogs at A PetSmart store in Salinas, California. For only $15 an hour, Scally worked a stressful job just to make ends meet. But the cost of living in California caught up with her, and after seven months she could not justify working there for such a low wage. She believed her time with PetSmart was done, but the company had other things in mind. Scally soon found out that the company charged her $5,500 in training fees because Scally did not endure the 24-month minimum tenure as outlined in her contract.

Scally got locked into a TRAP, requiring her to refund the company for the cost it took to train her and provide her with the tools necessary to do her job. Though companies argue that this is a way to ensure they are compensated for the unexpected loss of an employee, employee advocates say that it is merely a way to reduce the bargaining ability and agency of an employee in a working environment. In an attempt to prevent a shortage in labor, employers and businesses lock unsuspecting employees into low-pay, long-term contracts, and punish them if these employees decide they need to leave too early.

A class-action lawsuit recently filed in the Superior Court of California in San Mateo County alleges that PetSmart operates under unfair business practices and unlawfully charges its employees for the cost of training and providing equipment under the threat of being indebted. Though the “Grooming Academy” that provided Scally with the training to be a groomer for PetSmart was initially advertised as being free, she has realized quickly that this was not the case.

BreAnn Scally is just one of plenty of American employees dealing with issues involving TRAPs in the workplace. The amount of work or business brought by these employees does not affect or reduce the amount of this TRAP debt. As Scally points out, she “upsold” well over $5,500 (the amount she supposedly owes to PetSmart) in PetSmart services and products and yet she is still expected to pay the debt in its full amount.

The Fight Against TRAPs

A team of employees sitting around a table while the boss stands against the wall going over strategy.

Some advocates have likened these TRAP practices to indentured servitude, a method of employment used during Colonial America to keep workers bound to a single employer for an undisclosed amount of time in the hopes of some day becoming debt free. A practice that is illegal in the United States. Somehow it has found its way back into modern-day business tactics.

Training Repayment Agreement Provisions are plaguing modern-day work environments, but employee advocates and consumer protection groups are working to ensure that these TRAPs are not taken advantage of. The Scally v. PetSmart LLC case is just the first step of many to fight back businesses and large companies from taking advantage of their employees.

Want to ensure that this won’t happen to you? Scared you might get sucked into a TRAP? Contact Shub Law today to give your story! We are always on the consumer and employee’s side. It’s our job to stand up for the little guy.

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