A recent ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals is sending a once-dismissed case involving Planet Fitness and its transgender-inclusive locker room policies back to trial court.
On July 26, the Michigan Court of Appeals found a Planet Fitness health club in Midland, Michigan, in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) for revoking the membership of Yvette Cormier in March 2015. Cormier's membership was terminated after she allegedly complained to fellow members and club staff about an episode in which she encountered a transgender woman in the club's women's locker room.
Because of this incident, Cormier sued Planet Fitness for invasion of privacy, sexual harassment, emotional distress and breach of contract.
The case was initially dismissed by Midland County Circuit Court in January 2016, prompting Cormier to appeal. In June 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the circuit court’s ruling in favor of Planet Fitness, rejecting the premise that Cormier could have been endangered by the transgender woman’s usage of the locker room.
(Planet Fitness allows members and guests to use the locker room that matches their identity, as part of the company’s signature no-judgment policy.)
On April 6, the Michigan Supreme Court decided that the appeals court erred in declining to consider Cormier's appeal claiming that her rights, per the MCPA, had been violated.
According to the appeals court’s ruling, Cormier’s membership contract with Planet Fitness specified she would have access to a private women’s locker room and restroom. Had she known that transgender women were also allowed to use the restroom, per Cormier’s claims, she would not have signed the contract.
On these grounds, the court determined the club misled Cormier by failing to fully explain its policies when she signed a membership contract.
"We're pleased with the decision," Cormier’s attorney David Kallman told the Detroit Free Press. "The appeals court opinion was pretty clear that we not only have a valid claim, but that we will also prevail upon it."
Kallman told the Press he will file a motion for summary disposition with the local trial court arguing that Cormier should win the case without a trial because of the appeals court’s July 26 ruling.
If the disposition is granted and successful, Kallman said Cormier will request payment for attorneys fees and for Planet Fitness to amend its membership contracts and club signage.
Planet Fitness has declined to comment on the ongoing litigation, citing company policy.