A woman has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in Florida against LA Fitness, Irvine, CA, claiming she was sexually harassed by an LA Fitness sales manager last year.
The woman goes by the name Jane Doe in the complaint filed Aug. 11 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Doe's alleged sexual perpetrator and supervisor is sales manager Scott Tolbert, who hired Doe to work as a front desk clerk at the club, according to the complaint. Doe began working at the LA Fitness in Boca Raton, FL, on Oct. 7, 2013.
Three days later, Tolbert allegedly instructed Doe to bring a pen and paper and meet him at his car in the parking lot, where Tolbert was waiting for her. Tolbert drove her to a nearby restaurant, where he had an alcoholic beverage. Doe did not have a drink there, according to the complaint, and she did not have her wallet or any identification with her.
Tolbert then allegedly drove Doe to a secluded parking lot in Boca Raton, where he began kissing her, fondling her and made her touch him sexually. Doe attempted to leave the car before Tolbert agreed to drive her back to the club, according to the complaint.
Tolbert instructed Doe not to tell anyone of what allegedly took place in the car. Doe was fearful of Tolbert because he had purchased a gun the week before and was concerned that gun may have been in the car, according to the complaint. She also was fearful of losing her job, even though Tolbert allegedly told her that she would not because he was her boss.
Doe was unable to return to work since the alleged incident, according to the complaint.
Tolbert also had allegedly sexually abused at least one other employee at LA Fitness prior to Doe's alleged assault. Doe claims LA Fitness knew or should have known about Tolbert's misconduct with female employees and failed to take any action, according to the complaint.
Doe filed charges of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Doe received a Notice of Right to Sue by the EEOC on July 28.
LA Fitness faces counts of unlawful sexual harassment, constructive discharge and negligence/negligent retention/supervision. Doe is seeking compensation for lost wages and benefits, an award compensation for mental pain and suffering (among other awards) and attorneys' fees.
"A woman should never be sexually assaulted in the workplace," says Jeff Herman, Doe's attorney. "I commend this brave young woman for coming forward, and I respect her decision to speak out for other women who may be suffering in silence."
According to a media notice distributed by Herman's office last week, Tolbert no longer is an employee at LA Fitness, which has not responded to a request by Club Industry seeking comment.