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Yoga Studios Alert – Classification of Yoga Instructors

January 10, 2017

Yoga is a $10 billion (and growing!) industry in the United States and, consequently, the legal risks associated with teaching yoga and running a studio are growing too, because REGULATORS FOLLOW THE MONEY!  Labor departments around the country have been evaluating the way yoga studios classify their staff.

While you may believe your yoga instructors are properly classified as independent contractors, there is actually a specific test under the law that determines whether a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee.  This test centers around the amount of control the studio exercises over the worker.

Your yoga instructor may even agree that he/she is an independent contractor. However, if you stop using your yoga instructor to lead classes, or if your yoga instructor is injured at the studio and he/she wants to pursue unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation, they may change their tune and suddenly claim they are an employee, and the yoga studio could be on the hook for back wages and benefits.

Working with an attorney to draft an independent contractor agreement for your yoga instructors can be very advantageous.  In the event of a dispute, courts will consider whether the studio and the instructor entered into an independent contractor agreement at the start of the relationship.  A little proactive legal work can go a long way towards limiting liability in the future.

If you would like to discuss the particular employment concerns affecting the yoga industry and how Shulman Rogers can help you and your studio, please feel free to give me a call at 301-945-9250 or email at


Joy C. Einstein