Amid nationwide backlash over a racial profiling incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, three employees at a New Jersey gym have reportedly been fired for a similar situation.
In a series of Facebook videos that went viral Tuesday, two black men were kicked out of an LA Fitness in Secaucus after an employee called police.
Tshyrad Oates, who posted the videos on his account, said he was visiting on a four-day guest pass Monday. His friend, he said, had been a longtime member at the gym.
“After about a half hour I was approached by this same employee telling me that I had to leave or pay and I explained to her that I just signed in with her with the guest pass,” Oates wrote on Facebook.
“She stated that it was my friend who did not pay (unaware that her manager had already signed him in with his membership pass). My friend stated to her that he is an active and current member and that his gym tag was in his locker. He felt racially profiled and embarrassed by the harassment of this LA Fitness employee in front of other members at the gym.”
Oates continued to say that two policemen showed up at the LA Fitness to question them.
“We explained to them about our guest pass and rescanned my friend’s member tag and it resulted in current active statues. (The LA Fitness employee did look at the computer screen that showed current member status and said nothing),” he wrote.
“We again started our workout and 10 mins later an LA Fitness manager told us to leave, we stated that we did not do anything wrong and have active current memberships. 2 mins later 5 police men show up asking us to leave.”
The gym manager allegedly told Oates that he had been banned from the LA Fitness and his friend’s membership “has been terminated effective immediately.”
In one of Oates’ videos, his friend noted that they were “the only two black people in the gym” and that he had been “having problems with this staff for months.”
In another video, a man, seemingly a gym employee, insisted that no filming was allowed on premises as the videographer recorded his conversations with the police and other employees.
An employee at the gym told NJ.com that the manager and two other employees had been fired as a result of the incident.
“Regrettably, our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it,” LA Fitness said in a statement to NJ.com.
“Clearly, this is a long time member with a current, valid membership. We want to clarify that no membership was cancelled and no one, including the member's guest, was banned from the club. We have spoken to the member to apologize and assured him that he and his guests are welcome in our clubs at all times.”
An employee reached by the Daily News at the Secaucus location declined to comment.
Neither Oates nor the national media relations team for LA Fitness immediately returned a request for comment.
The New Jersey incident comes amid controversy at a Philadelphia Starbucks after the store manager called police to report two black men trying to use the restroom without making a purchase.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced Tuesday that all stores will close for one day next month for “racial-bias education” classes.
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