Woman Sues LA Fitness, Two Trainers over Alleged Harassment
(DALLAS) -- A Dallas woman has sued a national fitness company, alleging two employees sexually harassed her during personal training sessions.
Jamie Johnson filed a lawsuit against Fitness International LLC, which does business under the name LA Fitness, after the company denied her requests for a full refund after she told them she had been subjected to sexually explicit comments by two personal trainers.
Johnson joined the gym at the end of 2011, and paid for additional personal training sessions. Her attorney, Chase Laws, said her first trainer was great, but things quickly went wrong with her second trainer.
“He started by making inappropriate comments to her,” Laws told ABC News. “Not exactly offensive language directed at her, but inappropriate things about his lifestyle, sexual activities, things like that.”
At one point, the trainer had Johnson perform certain exercises so he “could ‘watch her boobs,’” according to the lawsuit filed in Dallas County Court last month. He told Johnson that he could tell when she’d had a “good workout” because “her nipples would get hard,” according to the court filing.
Johnson didn’t return to the gym, located in Plano, for a while after that, but when she eventually went back, after receiving psychological counseling, she requested a different trainer. She didn’t report the trainer’s comments to his supervisor, because she knew the two men were friends, and she didn’t feel comfortable speaking about it with him, said Laws. The session with the new trainer, who was randomly assigned to her, subjected her to additional harassing behavior, according to the lawsuit, with this trainer telling her stories of his sexual escapades with his girlfriend.
“Then he asked her to do the same exercise the last guy asked her to do, but she refused, telling him she was uncomfortable doing it,” Laws said. “She eventually told him why, and he laughed hysterically about it, so she left again.”
The next morning, the lawsuit alleges, Johnson received a text message from the last trainer, asking if she “suffers from hard nipple syndrome.”
Shortly after receiving the text, Johnson told the gym administrators about what had happened with the two trainers, and requested a refund of her membership, personal training sessions and extra expenses such as child care, for a total of nearly $2,800. She said her gym gave her a number to call for corporate membership.
“She called the 800-number they gave her, and they told her no, and offered her $400, and that was it,” Laws said.
Johnson began taking steps to leave the gym in June 2012, and her membership was eventually canceled on July 15, although she was not given the full refund she requested, so she contacted Laws.
LA Fitness has not responded to requests for comment from ABC News.
The complaint she filed against Fitness International and the two trainers claims the company engaged in deceptive trade practices, and was negligent in hiring and supervising staff, which, Laws said, constituted breach of contract.
Johnson’s lawsuit claims she and her husband suffered damages, including loss of out-of-pocket expenses and expenses for psychiatric and psychological care, as well as mental anguish.
“She wants to show employers, specifically LA Fitness, that employees can’t treat customers like this, and that if you run a business, you better supervise your employees properly,” Laws told ABC. “We haven’t gotten any response yet, but she wants to make sure nobody, man, woman, anybody, has to go through what she went through.”
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