ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The corporate office of Planet Fitness in New York issued a statement Thursday saying that while it cannot comment on pending ligation regarding one of its franchise gyms, the company policy accommodates head coverings worn for religious purposes.
“At Planet Fitness, our policy is, and has always been, that members are allowed to wear head scarves for religious reasons in clubs,” said a statement from McCall Gosselin, director of public relations.
The statement was made in response to a Journal story Thursday about a lawsuit alleging a Muslim woman member was unable to wear a head covering compliant with the Islamic faith.
The lawsuit was filed by Tarainia McDaniel against R & L Fitness of Albuquerque LLC and L & R Fitness of Albuquerque, doing business as Planet Fitness, and a John Doe employee.
McDaniel alleges in a lawsuit filed by her attorney, Rachel Higgins, that she explained the requirements of her religion but was told only that she could wear a baseball cap.
In Thursday’s story, Planet Fitness attorney Erika Anderson was quoted as saying, “My client’s position is that they didn’t know the head covering was for religious purposes. It violated their dress code policy.” She said she could not comment further on pending litigation.
According to McDaniel’s lawsuit, on Oct. 3, 2011, she entered the gym at Golf Course and Irving as she had many times before and was turned away, the lawsuit says. She requested an accommodation based on her religious requirements and suggested she could perhaps go home and come back with the hijab, the formal head covering, instead of what she was wearing, it says.
McDaniel told employees she would have to cancel her membership and was informed she would have to do so at the Coors location and pay a cancellation fee, the lawsuit claims.
At the Coors gym, an employee said the dress code was sometimes waived but it couldn’t be in her case because the head covering was red, according to the complaint.
McDaniel, a married mother of children ages 5 and 7, is a financial consultant and business owner who does job recruitment and placement for Fortune 500 companies, according to a deposition in the case. Besides operating her sole-proprietor business, she is working on a dual bachelor’s and master’s degree program in business and finance at the University of New Mexico.
The suit is scheduled for trial in August.