In addition to the correct information that Mr. Brinkmeier provided above, trainees are not considered to be employees under the applicable federal wage law (Fair Labor Standard Act) if certain conditions are satisfied. In regard to that federal wage law, it provides for a training wage of $4.25 per hour for new employees who are under 20 years of age for the first 90 days of employment.
I'm licensed to practice law in Michigan (www.shinnlegal.com). My response is provided only to educate the public about general issues that should be discussed with competent legal counsel in your state. Under no circumstances should you consider my response as a substitute for consulting an attorney in order to fully understand how the law may apply to your specific and unique circumstances.
Yes trainees can be paid less.
HOWEVER . . . this Burger King boss PROMISED $5.50/hour
and reneged? There may be some issues with that. Report
this boss to Burger King central (headquarters). Also consider
filing a complaint with LARA (Lansing, MI) Wage Division.
THIS ANSWER IS PURELY FOR ACADEMIC DISCUSSION ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ANY TYPE OF LEGAL ADVICE OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION.