California-Employee-Training-Should-You-Be-Getting-Paid-for-Your-Time.jpg (2149×1159)Employers love this one:

Illegal Unpaid Training in California

Unpaid training is one of the oldest tricks in the book for underhanded employers looking to steal time. During those days to weeks of unpaid training time, you still have to pay for your bills, meals, gas to get to work and back, and can’t take any other work. In other words: this is highly illegal. According to California employment law, all time your employer requires you to spend on the job, even if you are not yet “being productive” absolutely must be paid. Otherwise, your employer is stealing your time and refusing to compensate.

Many employers try to claim that because the staff in training are not working, they should not be paid. They may try to schedule your training off the clock and call it recreational. They may even try to dock current employees of their normal pay due to mandatory training time. All of these are violations of your employee rights.

Let’s take a look at the rules, one by one, to define what defines training time that must be paid for:

The Training is Mandatory

Employers are allowed to offer all sorts of career development courses. And if those courses are optional or voluntary, they might even claim time spent training is an employment perk, not work time.

However, Any task considered mandatory to hold your position is considered a work duty and therefore a paid part of your job. Just as a valet spends waiting for a customer to drive up is still paid, even if they aren’t actively parking cars.

The Training Relates to Your Job

If your employer offers or requires you to attend training, in or out of the office, that relates directly to your work duties then this is also considered paid time. Because you are working on your on-the-job skills and have been asked to do so by your employer, you are officially working for them. 

Seeking training on your own to better your skills does not apply. But if your employer assigns you to learn work-related tasks in training, they must pay for your time spent doing the training course. 

The Training Takes Place During Regular or Overtime Work Hours

Whether or not the training is considered related to your work duties or even fully mandatory, if your employer sends you to train during normal work hours or extended overtime hours, your time must be paid. For example, if an employer assigns a retail associate to train on the inventory management software during their normal work hours, even if they don’t actually get re-assigned to inventory, that is paid work time. Likewise, if they ask you to stay late for the training which may become paid overtime.

The Training Produces Value or Product for Your Employer

Finally, and this is very important, training that produces something for the company must always be paid. Your employer cannot ask you to spend unpaid time training (or demonstrating skill) in a way that makes them something of value. This has gotten many employers in trouble when asking for demonstrations during interviews or offering optional training that happens to also create work-product.

If you create a marketing presentation that the employer then puts to use, or a piece of software that gets integrated into the employer’s technology, your time has been stolen unless they pay you for it.

California workers have a right to be paid any time they are doing what is required of an employer or creating value for the employer. Employers do not get to choose which one they pay for, they do not get to say training is voluntary when it is really mandatory, and they do not get to ask you to create them something for free.

Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, our legal team is dedicated to defending employee rights to fair pay and fair treatment. If you or your coworkers have been required to take unpaid training time or asked to create work-product for your employers without pay, your rights are being violated and back-pay is owed. Let us help make your employer change their ways, not just for you, but for every employee they are applying these thieving tactics to now and in the future.

Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986