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Appeals Court Decision Made in LGBTQ Locker Room Case

September 20th, 2018

A woman who sued Planet Fitness after the company revoked her membership due to a complaint about a transgender woman in the locker room won an appeal.

A woman who sued Planet Fitness after the company revoked her membership due to a complaint about a transgender woman in the locker room won an appeal.

A Michigan appeals court recently issued a decision involving LGBTQ rights and Planet Fitness, and sent the case back to trial court. The case involves a woman who initiated legal action against Planet Fitness after the company revoked the woman’s membership because the woman issued a complaint that she saw a transgender woman in the female locker room. The way in which this case resolves will likely have a ripple effect on how transgender rights are decided.

How the Planet Fitness Locker Room Case Arose

The woman had signed a contract with Planet Fitness after joining the gym, which stated the woman had access to a private women’s locker room as well as a restroom. The woman argued that if she had been informed that transgender women were permitted to use the restroom, she would not have become a gym member. Due to the interaction in question, the woman who initiated the lawsuit argues that invasion of privacy, sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, and emotional distress have occurred.

The appellate court later found that the gym had violated the Consumer Protection Act, which offers several protections to consumers against employer practices. More specifically, the court ruled that because the gym failed to update the gym member about the company’s transgender policy, the woman was misled when signing a contract. The court also ruled that it was permissible for the woman to continue to go to the gym after the incident to warn other woman about the event because cancelling her membership early would have resulted in additional charges. Legal scholars have argued that the placement of a “no-judgment” clause in Planet Fitness contracts is vague to the degree that it makes it possible to deny benefits to the woman that she reasonably expected to receive.

Response to the Court’s Decision

In response to the decision, Planet Fitness stated that the woman’s membership was not cancelled to complaints about a transgender member in the locker room, but instead because the gym member violated Planet Fitness’s “judgment-free zone” policy, which applies to all gym members.

Future of the Case

The case will now be sent to trial court. The gym member’s attorney plans to then file a motion for summary disposition, which will argue that the case should be favored on behalf of the gym member without a trial. If successful, the plaintiff’s attorney has announced that they will also seek to have Planet Fitness list its locker room and restroom policy on both gym contracts and notices throughout gyms.

The Goal of the ULC Blog

Planet Fitness has more than 900 locations throughout the country that follow this “no-judgment” policy, which means that the Michigan appellate court’s decision will have a significant impact on LGBTQ rights in gym settings. Which bathroom a transgender person should be allowed into has become a hotly debated issue in recent years. The Universal Life Church’s blog is dedicated to following the development of LGBTQ rights and major developments in this area of law.

(image courtesy of Justyn Warner)

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