Black bodybuilder sues swanky fitness club for $11.25 Million
A former bodybuilder, Röbynn Europe, who worked for a year as a personal trainer at high-end gym chain Equinox in the United States, filed a lawsuit. The woman claimed that she faced hostility at her workplace and was fired because of her race and gender.
"Racism and sexism - they are just pervasive in the fitness industry," Europe told the New York Times.
The company denied the allegations and said that Europe was fired for repeated tardiness. According to the former employer, Robin was late 47 times in less than a year of work. The plaintiff's lawyer, however, provided the court with attendance data from other managers who also had problems with attendance discipline. Some of them were late to work even more often than Röbynn Europe. However, she was the only one who was fired for this reason.
Last week, a predominantly white jury of five women and three men, sided with Europe. The court also ordered the luxury gym chain to pay the former employee $10 million in punitive damages and $1.25 million for the distress she suffered.
Equinoх stated that it vehemently disagreed with the jury's decision and noted that it did not tolerate discrimination in any form. In the motion it filed asking the court to reconsider the case or reduce the award it was argued that the jurors, “guided by sympathy and emotion,” had “erroneously” bought into the plaintiff’s claim that she had been the victim and “issued extreme, unconscionable damages” as a result.
Miss Europe was hired by the high-end Equinox gym as a fitness manager in November 2018. She was later promoted to the position of personal training manager supervising 15 employees, including a white male fitness manager. In her complaint to the court, Europe stated that he refused to accept her as his supervisor and made unwanted comments about nonwhite female clients and employees of the club, calling them "lazy" and "unreliable".
Nevertheless this is not the first lawsuit filed by employees against Equinox luxury fitness clubs. In March, the court approved a settlement agreement on two class action lawsuits that involved unpaid salaries to employees. The lawsuits also involved claims against the company's policy on meal and rest breaks. As a result, Equinox may be forced to pay $36 million to 15,000 employees who worked at the club between 2015 and 2022.