Three employees of an LA Fitness in Secaucus, New Jersey have reportedly been fired. They apparently called the police on a pair of black men due to a membership dispute.
The manager of the establishment was seen speaking with police on a video made by the two black men. The manager was insisting the men’s memberships were not correct; however, one man had been a member of LA Fitness for eight years. The other man was using a four-day pass.
According to NJ.com, the manager of that LA Fitness has been “removed from the company”. Two women were also let go because of the role they played in the unfortunate situation.
An employee named Josos, who spoke with NJ.com on the telephone, said that he knows the incident was “really bad”. He also revealed that LA Fitness has apologized to the two men.
In a statement, LA Fitness said that the employee at the front desk was “confused” and thought that the member was a guest. The man explained that he was actually a member and had checked in earlier; he didn’t want to get his membership card in order to check in a second time. The female employee at the front desk was not working when he first checked in, so she was therefore unaware.
LA fitness said that the staff regrettably and unnecessarily escalated the situation; instead of working through the issue, they called the police. The man was a long-time member who had a valid and current membership. No one’s membership was cancelled as a result of the incident; no one was banned from the club.
The company has apparently spoken to the member in order to apologize and also make it known that he is welcome in the club at all times. It claims that the company is studying potential training content and other opportunities so as to better train its staff in the future.
On April 16, Tshyrad Oates posted on Facebook that he used his four-day guest pass at LA Fitness in order to workout with his friend. The friend had been a member of LA Fitness for eight years.
After about a half hour, he wrote, he was approached by an employee saying that he had to pay or leave. He explained to her that he had already signed in with a guest pass. That employee then allegedly said it was his friend who did not pay.
The two men then continued working out until police arrived; they were asked why they didn’t have memberships.
The men explained about the guest pass, and his friend’s membership tag was rescanned, showing an active membership. The employee apparently did not say anything when she saw the status.
Thinking all was well, the two men worked out for another ten minutes or so. That’s when, Tshyrad Oates wrote, an LA Fitness manager asked the two to leave. Five police officers had arrived, and they also asked the two to leave.
Oates concluded his Facebook post by saying that the manager refused to say why he and his friend were being kicked out or give them his name. The manager just stated that he was banned from the gym and that his friend’s membership was being terminated—effective immediately.
In a video of the incident, Oates’ friend—who has not been named—is heard; he is describing the situation.
According to the audio, that particular gym location has had issues with corporate before.
He can also be heard suggesting making the situation “a black thing”. The video showed an almost empty gym. The friend said that he and his friend were the only two black people there. He claimed he had been having problems with the gym over nothing “for months”.
Throughout the video clips, the manager can be seen and heard; he grows more and more irritated and angry, and he demanded that Oates and his friend stop filming.
Captain Dennis Miller of the Secaucus Police Department stated that the police officers acted professionally and controlled what could potentially been a volatile situation.
The captain also added that people are allowed to film police officers in public places.
Oates and his friend were not arrested; after all, they didn’t do anything wrong.
The videos of the incident have been shared more than 30,000 times.
The American gym chain LA Fitness actually has over 700 clubs throughout the United States and Canada. The company is based in Irvine, California and was founded in 1984. Its clubs are open seven days a week, and many of them are open 24 hours a day.