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Premier Martial Arts Sued by Over 30 of Their Franchise Owners


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MATA Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course

Module 21-The Proper Use of Student Instructors

by Scot Conway, Esquire

The $25,000 Volunteers

Excerpt from the Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course:

Using upper ranks to teach classes has been a long-standing martial arts tradition. But, is it legal?

A California instructor had his black belts teaching under-rank classes at his studio. In exchange, he no longer charged them tuition.

This continued until one fateful day when the owner and a black belt student had a disagreement.

The vindictive student contacted the California Labor Board and reported that his instructor had been employing assistants by requiring that they teach classes each week.

This can constitute an Employer – Worker relationship. The only thing missing was payment for the workers and the taxes the government would collect if they were being paid.

The State of California investigators concluded that the owner, over the years, had a total of 25 black belts teach classes.

They defined them as uncompensated employees, which is illegal under the laws of California, and fined the instructor $1,000 per incident.

The final bill: $25,000 for the volunteers.

Lesson: Know your state laws regarding utilizing assistant instructors.

Dozens of new franchise owners are suing Knoxville-based Premier Martial Arts in federal court, claiming the company defrauded them for years.

“Our school opened right in the middle of COVID,” one owner said. “Everyone told us it would be easy to get started and make money.” According to her after spending at least $250,000 just to open their Premier Martial Arts school, it’s been nothing but stress. “We were told it would be about $150,000,” she said. “We did our due diligence, only to find out about 18 months later that none of it was real.” more than 50 other franchise owners are joining the lawsuit claiming Premier lied by telling them a franchise could operate by just putting in 10 hours a week or so. Over 50 franchisees have accused Knoxville, Tennessee-based Premier Franchising Group LLC, which does business as Premier Martial Arts, or PMA, of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, fraudulent inducement and breach of contract.
Unleashed Brands Chief Legal Officer Stephen Polozola said that “Premier Franchising Group disputes the claims asserted by this small subset of franchisees.” He declined to comment further on the pending litigation.
The franchisees’ attorney, John Jacobson of Riley & Jacobson, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Source: ABC 6 Knoxville, TN

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