LA Fitness, Irvine, CA, is being sued by a VIP guest of a member in Florida on the grounds of racial discrimination.
The case, Marie Dessalines vs. LA Fitness International, was filed on Oct. 14 in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida.
According to the lawsuit, Dessalines entered an LA Fitness club in Sunrise, FL, as a VIP guest of member Erin Waller on April 26, 2011. Upon entering the club, Dessalines says she inadvertently provided an old membership card that had been deactivated instead of the VIP guest membership key that Waller had given her. She also says that she quickly corrected the matter and began her workout.
As Dessalines and Waller were leaving the club, the club’s manager and other members of the club’s staff began saying racially derogatory and discriminatory comments toward Dessalines, who is black, according to the lawsuit. One of the comments that the lawsuit claims was made was, “You n------ all think your (sic) slick,” referring to Dessalines’ attempt to use her old membership.
After Dessalines and Waller responded to the alleged comments, the club’s manager, who is referred to as Denise in the lawsuit, allegedly called police to escort the two women out of the club.
When Dessalines and Waller called the LA Fitness corporate office the next day, LA Fitness said it was aware of the incident, according to the lawsuit. The company said that Waller, who is not black, could maintain her membership status but that Dessalines was no longer permitted to come back to the club, either as a paid member or a VIP guest, Dessalines claims.
Dessalines seeks all damages, including punitive damages, litigation expenses and costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief deemed proper by the court.
LA Fitness declined to comment on the lawsuit.