A Michigan appeals court sent the case of a woman who sued Planet Fitness because the gym allowed biological men in the women’s locker room back to trial court.
Yvette Cormier sued the Planet Fitness gym in Midland, Michigan in 2015 after it suspended her membership because she reported – to other women customers of the gym – having seen a man using the women’s locker room. When Cormier asked the gym’s staff why a man was using the women’s facilities, she was 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.”
The appeals court, however, found the gym had violated the Consumer Protection Act because Cormier had signed the membership agreement expecting only biological women would be permitted to use the women’s locker facilities. Had she known biological men claiming to be women would have access to the women’s locker room, she would not have sought membership. Planet Fitness, the court said, so she misled Cormier when she signed her membership contract.
According to the ruling:
The transaction at issue is plaintiff’s agreement to join the gym. The allegations in plaintiff’s complaint indicate that defendants made a representation of fact in a positive manner when they informed her that the gym had separate locker rooms and restrooms for men and women. And, according to the complaint, when plaintiff joined the gym, defendants failed to reveal the fact that they had an unwritten policy whereby an individual may use whichever locker room or restroom corresponds with the gender with which that individual self-identifies. Therefore, plaintiff’s allegations indicate that defendants failed to reveal facts (i.e., the existence of the unwritten self-identification policy) and that representations of fact were made in a positive manner (i.e., that there were separate locker rooms and restrooms for men and women). The question becomes, then, whether the fact that defendants failed to reveal, i.e., the existence of the unwritten self-identification policy, was material to the transaction.
Cormier’s attorney, David Kallman, said his client is pleased with the decision, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“The appeals court opinion was pretty clear that we not only have a valid claim, but that we will also prevail upon it,” he said, indicating that he will file a motion with the trial court, stating they should win the case without a trial because of the appeals court’s ruling.
If successful, Kallman will also ask that his client’s legal fees be paid for by Planet Fitness and that the gym be required to post notices about its policy regarding transgendered individuals.
In July, the Planet Fitness gym in Leesburg, Florida also made headlines after cancelling the membership of a woman when she voiced complaints to other women about the presence of a man in the women’s locker room.
According to Liberty Counsel, which represents “Mrs. H.,” Jordan “Ivy” Rice – a biological man who claims to be a woman – called police to falsely report that Mrs. H. had “sexually harassed” him. The law firm noted that Ivy had been involved in several similar incidents.
“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, 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.”
The case is Yvette M. Cormier v. PF Fitness-Midland, LLC, and “LA-FIT Franchise, LLC, No. 331286 at Midland Circuit Court.