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Planet Fitness Ends Woman’s Membership over Complaint of Man in Women’s Locker Room

People exercise at Planet Fitness in the Columbia Mall on July 24, 2017 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Mall space is being repurposed as more department store chains close stores that have traditionally served as 'anchors' at malls. The Planet Fitness now occupies the space that was previously a Sears. The glass …
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty

Planet Fitness has cancelled the membership of a woman after she voiced complaints about the presence of a man in the women’s locker room in front of other women customers of the gym.

Liberty Counsel, a national litigation firm that handles First Amendment and civil liberties cases, said in a letter to the CEO of Planet Fitness that its client, “Mrs. H.” – a survivor of a violent rape attempt – has been the victim of “discriminatory conduct.” The firm wrote the Planet Fitness gym located in Leesburg, Florida, violated Florida law by terminating the membership contract of “Mrs. H.” after she openly objected to the presence of a man, Jordan “Ivy” Rice, who claims to be transgender, in the women’s locker room.

“This is not the only incident with Mr. Rice known to Planet Fitness,” attorneys Mary McAlister and Richard Mast of Liberty Counsel wrote to the franchise’s CEO Chris Rondeau. “Another woman reported that he exposed his naked body to her in the woman’s locker room at this location. In another instance, he was involved in an argument with another woman over use of the tanning room.”

The attorneys continued:

A records request reveals that Mr. Rice (incredibly) had called the police to falsely report that he had been “sexually harassed” by Mrs. H. He can be heard on his 911 call, following Mrs. H. across the parking lot of the establishment, over into the next parking lot, calmly relaying to the dispatcher his and Mrs. H.’s appearances, a description of Mrs. H.’s vehicle, and the direction in which she was headed. The fact that he was and is a man was evident to the dispatcher, who repeatedly refers to him as “sir” on that call. No police report was filed.

A recording of Rice’s 911 call can be heard here.

“Misogynist, anti-woman harassment should have no place in Planet Fitness locations, and violates Florida law,” the lawyers stated. “Planet Fitness holds itself out as serving men and women equally, yet by its policies permit some of its customers to deprive the opposite sex of full, equal, private use of the facilities at any time.”

Liberty Counsel is demanding that Planet Fitness reinstate “Mrs. H’s” membership and revise its Florida policies “to permit access to women’s restrooms and lockers based only on biological ‘sex,’ or advise members in its contracts that the franchise promises “no expectation of sex-based privacy with Planet Fitness facilities.” Additionally, the law firm demands signs be posted in locker rooms at Planet Fitness’s Florida centers that inform members they may encounter individuals of the opposite sex in the facilities traditionally reserved for single-sex use.

The law firm wrote that it expects a response to its requests by July 26; otherwise, further legal action will be taken.

“Planet Fitness is endangering women by allowing men to sexually harass them in the women’s facilities and punishing those who object,”said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “This is discrimination based on sex, in violation of Florida law as well as several of Planet Fitness’ own policies. Liberty Counsel demands that Planet Fitness reinstate our client’s membership and adhere to the law and its own policies and protect the privacy of women.”

In 2015, Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan, also suspended a woman’s membership after she witnessed a man using the women’s locker room and reported the incident to other women at the gym. When Yvette Cormier asked a staff member why a man was using the women’s locker room, she was reportedly told he had identified as a woman.

“Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members,” said McCall Gosselin, public relations director for Planet Fitness, after the 2015 incident. “Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity.”

 

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