WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When a Washington state beauty salon charged Simran Bal $1,900 for training after she quit, she was shocked.
Not only was Bal a licensed esthetician with no need for instruction, she argued that the training was specific to the shop and low quality.
Bal's story mirrors that of dozens of people and advocates in healthcare, trucking, retail, and other industries who complained recently to U.S. regulators
some companies charge employees who quit large sums of money for training.
Nearly 10% of American workers surveyed in 2020 were covered by a training repayment agreement, said the Cornell Survey Research Institute
The practice, which critics call Training Repayment Agreement Provisions, or TRAPs, is drawing scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers
On Capitol Hill, Senator Sherrod Brown is studying legislative options to introduce a bill next year to rein in the practice, a Senate Democratic aide said
At the state level, attorneys general like Minnesota's Keith Ellison is assessing how prevalent the practice is and could update guidance
Ellison told Reuters he would be inclined to oppose reimbursement demands for job-specific instruction
while it "could be different" if an employer wanted reimbursement for training for a certification like a commercial driving license that is widely recognized as valuable
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun reviewing the practice, while the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have received complaints about it.
The use of training agreements is growing even though unemployment is low, which presumably gives workers more power, said Jonathan Harris who teaches at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles
"Employers are looking for ways to keep their workers from quitting without raising wages or improving working conditions," said Harris.