L.A. Fitness has fired a manager and two employees at a New Jersey gym where two Black men were escorted out by officers Monday night after a dispute over one of the men’s gym membership.
An employee at the national fitness chain in Secaucus, N.J. confirmed Wednesday that the manager seen in the viral video of the incident has been “removed from the company,” NJ.com reported. The two women who were working that evening and harassed the two men were also fired, according to the employee.
“I know the incident was really bad,” he said via telephone.
The gym dispute came just days after coffee giant Starbucks made national headlines over a similar incident of perceived racial discrimination. In a statement, L.A. Fitness said it has apologized to the customer and assured him that his membership is still valid.
” … Regrettably, our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it,” the company wrote in an e-mailed statement. “Clearly, this is a long time member with a currently valid membership. We want to clarify that no membership was canceled and no one, including the member’s guest, was banned from the club,”
“We have spoken to the member to apologize and assured him that he and his guests are welcome in our clubs at all times,” it continued.
The incident went viral on Monday after New Jersey man Tshyrad Oates posted footage on Facebook explaining that the manager had called police while he and a friend were working out. Oates explained he was using a four-day guest pass and that his friend was a member at the gym.
After checking in at the front, the man said an employee questioned them multiple times about their membership credentials, seemingly unaware that a manager already scanned his friend’s membership pass and his guest pass. Moments later, officers interrupted their workout and also questioned the duo about why they didn’t have memberships.
Once again, the men explained their situation and their passes were re-scanned at the front. This was no consolation, however, as the gym’s manager asked the men to leave about 10 minutes later, followed by five officers who instructed 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’m now banned from the gym and [that] my friend’s gym membership has been terminated effective immediately,” Oates wrote in a Facebook post. “This is ridiculous and the last video sealed the deal.”
“[My friend] felt racially profiled and embarrassed by the harassment of this L.A. Fitness employee in front of other members at the gym,” he added.
L.A. Fitness said it is now “exploring potential training content and opportunities to better train our staff.”
The three fired employees remain unnamed.