SAN DIEGO -- 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, CA, is dealing with a class-action lawsuit that involves the company’s system of paying group exercise instructors.

Earlier this month, the San Diego Superior Court ruled that a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 6,000 24 Hour group exercise instructors in California may proceed as a class action. The case, Posadas-Romesberg vs. 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc., was initially two cases filed in September 2006 by a current and former 24 Hour employee.

The suit claims that 24 Hour’s “session rate” compensation for group exercise instructors is not legal under California law. Instructors in that state, the suit claims, should be compensated for time spent attending training and certification courses, including CPR and other courses, and that they should be reimbursed for their business expenses to attend those courses and for expenses such as purchasing music for their classes.

Amara Posadas-Romesberg, one of the original plaintiffs, has been a group exercise instructor at a 24 Hour in Chula Vista, CA, since 1997. Romesberg teaches five to seven classes a week and makes $20 an hour. 24 Hour instructors get paid one hour for each class, according to the lawsuit, even though instructors arrive early to set up equipment and stay late to clean up or talk to members about the class.

24 Hour, which has more than 200 clubs in California, changed its method of chronicling work time in May 2004 from hand time sheets to computerized time sheets, the suit says. When instructors log into the computer and enter what class they are teaching, the computer converts their time in and out of the club and changes that figure to exactly one hour per class, according to the suit. Romesberg alleges group exercise instructors often work more hours than what the computer records based on a company procedure to round time to a fixed one hour for every class taught.

24 Hour denies all the plaintiffs’ claims and says the court’s decision to allow the case to go forward does not address the merits of the case or imply wrongdoing.