LOS ANGELES — For the second year in a row, 24 Hour Fitness is facing a lawsuit based on allegations of discrimination.

Last month, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Oakland, CA, law firm of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson filed a lawsuit in Alameda County (CA) Superior Court. The lawsuit, Fulcher vs. 24 Hour Fitness, claims 24 Hour discriminated against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin and gender.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the San Ramon, CA-based company subjected minority and female employees to discrimination regarding promotions to management positions and equal compensation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Business and Profession Code.

24 Hour denies the allegations.

“24 Hour Fitness is an equal employment opportunity employer and we are deeply committed to providing a work environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and retaliation,” 24 Hour said in a statement. “24 Hour Fitness makes its hiring and promotional decisions without regard to race, national origin, gender or any other protected basis. We firmly deny the allegations made in the complaint and we expect to prevail when all the facts are heard.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order 24 Hour to end its alleged discriminatory employment practices and to provide back pay and damages to the employees who claim they have been treated unfairly.

24 Hour faced a similar discrimination lawsuit last year in which two former employees, former district managers Paul Drobot and Reginald Allison, claimed they were harassed, demoted and forced to leave their jobs for complaining about an atmosphere of racism and homophobia at the company. The former employees also claimed that 24 Hour retaliated against them after they reported objectionable remarks by their supervisors and that their complaints were ignored.

In May, that case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning Drobot and Allison are barred from filing another case on the same claim.

24 Hour was once again the No. 1 club on Club Industry's Top 100 Clubs list, which was released in the July issue of the magazine. The company generated $1.352 billion in revenue in 2009 from the more than 425 clubs it operates nationwide.