An LA Fitness gym in New Jersey says it has fired a manager and two other employees after an online video showed them calling police on two black customers — one a club member and the other a guest with a pass, a report said.
The customers allege they had a right to be at the club, but instead were racially profiled.
Customer Tshyrad Oates says he signed in at the Secaucus gym under a four-day guest pass, while his friend was already a member. Oates says an employee — whom Oates claims was unaware that her manager had already signed in his friend — approached them as they were working out and told them to either pay or leave.
“I’ve been having multiple problems with this club,” his friend says in one of the videos. “I’ve been a member here for at least eight years.”
They told the employee that his friend was an “active and current member” and had left his gym tag in a locker before starting their workout again. But police officers arrived shortly afterward and questioned them, Oates wrote.
“We explained to them about our guest pass and re-scanned my friend’s member tag and it resulted in ‘current active’ status. (The LA Fitness employee did look at the computer screen that showed current member status and said nothing),” Oates wrote.
They again started their workout, but about 10 minutes later an LA Fitness manager told the men to leave without providing a reason and threatened to ban them and terminate his friend’s membership, Oates wrote.
Moments later five officers surrounded them and asked them to leave.
Oates wrote that his friend “felt racially profiled and embarrassed” by the staff’s treatment of them in front of the other gym patrons.
An employee at the Secaucus gym told NJ.com that the manager and two female workers were “removed from the company.”
“Regrettably, our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it,” LA Fitness told the news outlet in a statement Wednesday.
“Clearly, this is a long time member with a current, valid membership,” the statement read. “We want to clarify that no membership was cancelled 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.”
The incident followed a similar situation at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week, where two black men were arrested for refusing to leave when a store employee denied them access to the restroom.
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