24 Hour Faces Discrimination Lawsuit in California


LOS ANGELES -- 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, CA, denies allegations of discrimination made in a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit, Fulcher vs. 24 Hour Fitness, was filed in Alameda County (CA) Superior Court by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the Oakland, CA, law firm of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that 24 Hour discriminated against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin and gender. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that 24 Hour subjected minority and female employees to discrimination regarding promotions to management positions and equal compensation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Business and Profession Code.

“24 Hour Fitness is an equal employment opportunity employer, and we are deeply committed to providing a work environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and retaliation,” 24 Hour said in a statement. “24 Hour Fitness makes its hiring and promotional decisions without regard to race, national origin, gender or any other protected basis. We firmly deny the allegations made in the complaint, and we expect to prevail when all the facts are heard.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order 24 Hour to end its alleged discriminatory employment practices and to provide back pay and damages to the employees who claim they have been treated unfairly.

Lead plaintiff Raoul Fulcher Jr., said in a press release that he has been passed over for promotions because he is African-American.

“Usually, the coach gives the ball to the best player, but at 24 Hour Fitness, that is not the case,” Fulcher said.

Plaintiff Richard Lopez said he was the only Latino membership counselor at the 24 Hour club in Concord, CA.

“I did everything I could to reach out to our Spanish-speaking membership, and yet I could not get a fair shake and the promotion I deserved,” Lopez said in the release.

One of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs is Bill Lann Lee, who served as the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in the Clinton administration.

“24 Hour Fitness promises customers a family fitness environment,” Lee said in a statement. “But 24 Hour Fitness does not treat its minority and women employees as part of the family. Qualified, experienced minorities and women work lower-level jobs but don’t get a chance at management jobs. Breaking the promise of equal opportunity is against the law.”

24 Hour faced a similar discrimination lawsuit last year, but in May, that case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs are barred from filing another case on the same claim.

24 Hour was once again the No. 1 club on Club Industry’s Top 100 Clubs list, which was released in this month’s issue of the magazine. The company generated $1.352 billion in revenue in 2009 from the more than 425 clubs it operates nationwide.

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