Days after Starbucks was thrust into the national spotlight over a racial discrimination incident, L.A. Fitness is going viral for a similar case.
A New Jersey man filmed himself and his friend, Tshyrad Oates, during a trip to the national gym chain in Secaucus, N.J. where police responded to a dispute over the man’s membership.
Oates explained in a Monday, April 16 Facebook post that he signed in under a four-day guest pass, which accompanied his friend’s current membership.
“After about a half hour I was approached by this same employee telling me that I had to leave or pay and I explained to her that I just signed in with her with the guest pass,” he wrote in the post which included four videos of the encounter. “She stated that it was my friend who did not pay (unaware that her manager had already signed him in with his membership pass). My friend stated to her that he is an active and current member and that his gym tag was in his locker. He felt racially profiled and embarrassed by the harassment of this L.A. Fitness employee in front of other members at the gym.”
Oates added that the duo continued their workout when police officers arrived and asked why they were at the gym without memberships. After explaining about the guest pass, the friend’s pass was rescanned. Oates said the employee reviewed the screen and remained silent upon seeing the current membership status.
Yet 10 minutes later, a manager told the duo to leave followed by five officers who asked them to do the same.
“This L.A. Fitness manager who refused to give us his reason to [kick] us out, and refused to give us his name stated that I was banned from the gym and my friend’s gym membership has been terminated effective immediately,” he wrote. “This is ridiculous and the last video sealed the deal.”
Clips of the incident show an employee telling the men to stop filming, the gym member claiming that there have been “problems with this staff for months” and officers advising him to contact corporate.
“Ridiculous, man,” the man says. “Working out by myself … [I’m getting kicked out] for no reason. I didn’t argue with anybody, I didn’t do nothing, man. … Let’s make this a Black thing. We’re the only two Black people in the gym.”
In a follow-up post Wednesday, April 18, Oates said he and his friend contacted corporate but have not received any written responses from L.A. Fitness.
“[My friend] has been called by staff and was told a number of things, but cannot be sure of the credibility of these calls unless we have written statements,” Oates said.
Meanwhile, many have been firing off responses to the incident in Oates’ comments.
“You need to take legal action!! That’s the only way you will be able to hold people accountable,” one person wrote. “And if you want corporate to response, a lawsuit will sure enough do it.”
“Reading this from Australia while on a holiday home. My husband just joined a new gym in L.A. and thank goodness it wasn’t L.A. Fitness,” someone else said. “100 percent behind you. This treatment was uncalled for, racist and appalling. Thank you for making the international community aware.”
“I am sorry for the ignorant people in this [world]. Makes me sick!!!” someone posted. “They didn’t want cameras because they didn’t want the world to see their ignorance!!”