LA Fitness sued over homophobic employee

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An Atlanta attorney who was subjected to anti-gay remarks and later assaulted during a visit to a health club recently filed suit after the company failed to address his complaint about the altercation.

According to a press release issued by his laywers, Seth Persily filed a lawsuit August 7th against L.A. Fitness claiming that an employee at one of its facilities in Atlanta made anti-gay comments and later accosted him in a locker-room on July 18th.

L.A. Fitness in the UK has no connection with the company involved in the legal action.

Persily, who has frequented the L.A. Fitness branch in Buckhead for nearly six months, says the company has still done nothing to respond to the complaint he made about the incident.

The lawsuit demands damages for assault, slander and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“When I went to the gym that morning, all I was interested in was working out. You never expect something like this to happen,” Persily said.

“I don’t think any company, especially ones with a large gay clientele, should tolerate that kind of behaviour from its employees.”

California-based L.A. Fitness operates more than 200 facilities in 17 U.S. cities and Canada and, like in Atlanta, is widely popular among gay and lesbian residents.

The lawsuit outlines the July 18th incident.

While Persily worked out on an elliptical trainer, a female gym guest and a gym employee were using a machine next to him.

Both the woman and the gym employee made anti-gay remarks and when Persily asked them to stop, the L.A. Fitness employee said that “gays are nasty.”

The employee then challenged Persily to a physical confrontation and later, attempted to strike him in the locker-room after Persily asked other L.A. Fitness employees to help him file a complaint.

Persily says he filed a complaint at the health club immediately after the incident and spoke with the manager, but received no response.

Steve Koval, Persily’s attorney, said he contacted the manager of the L.A. Fitness facility, who also did not respond to Persily’s complaint.

“After the L.A. Fitness employee told Seth that ‘gays are nasty’ and assaulted him, the least L.A. Fitness could do is offer a prompt apology and respond to my client’s complaint and my phone call.

“It’s very disappointing that L.A. Fitness is apparently not taking this incident seriously,” Koval said in a release.

Persily said he hopes the lawsuit will encourage other gay men and lesbians to take a stand against being victimised.

“When I saw this guy who was much bigger than me coming to attack me, I was quite scared.

“But after the incident was over, I knew that I didn’t have to be a victim and that I could force L.A. Fitness to deal with this if the company wouldn’t deal with it voluntarily,” he says.

Though the suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, Persily says the case is about more than that.

“This incident indicates to me that L.A. Fitness hasn’t properly trained its employees that its gay customers deserve the same respect as everybody else.

“The company certainly needs to do that, and make it very clear to the gay community that employees who hurl anti-gay insults don’t have a place there.”

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LA Fitness in the UK has no association with the company involved in the lawsuit and they have asked us to stress that they do not discriminate against anyone.

The company has fair, open and supportive policies for employees and members alike.