A judge who dismissed a complaint filed by a woman against a Planet Fitness health club in Michigan after she found a man in the women’s locker room made a serious mistake, according to an appeal of the case filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The judge said the woman could not complain because she had been told of the company’s “judgment-free zone,” but the appeal points out that she was not told that meant men would be allowed in the ladies’ facilities.
“The trial court erroneously held that ‘plaintiff may have reasonably expected only women would be present in the women’s locker room, even in the common areas; however, she could no longer reasonably expect only women would use the facility after being told about the ‘judgment-free zone’ policy,” the judge said.
The appeal was filed by Kallman Legal on behalf of Yvette Cormier, whose membership in the club was terminated when she complained about the presence of a man and warned other women about the situation.
The appeal states: “There was subterfuge in this case. Mrs. Cormier is at a loss as to how she could have possibly known about defendants’ hidden, unwritten policy after being told of the magic words ‘judgment-free zone.’ Despite the membership agreement being completely void of any language describing a ‘no judgment policy,’ let alone that such a policy would include the idea that men can use the women’s locker rooms and showers, the trial court held that Mrs. Cormier should have known better.”
The trial court decision was from Midland County Circuit Judge Michael J. Beale, who ruled last winter after Cormier filed the original complaint that Planet Fitness policy allows biological men to have “unfettered use of the women’s locker room, including showers, lockers, and all other aspects.”
Beale wrote that because Cormier left the locker before any “actual use” happened, her claim had to be dismissed.
WND reported when the case originally developed that Cormier alleged Planet Fitness breached her club-use contract and violated the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act when it created a policy for its health club that allows a “judgment-free zone,” where a person can use a gender-specific facility according to his or her “gender identity.”
After Cormier encountered the man and complained to the company without results, she was left without options and went to the facility to warn other women about the fact a man had been found in the women’s lockers.
“Defendants contacted plaintiff on March 4, 2015, requesting she stop warning others of defendants’ ‘judgment-free zone’ policy. Plaintiff was given an ultimatum to either accept the policy or her membership would be terminated. She refused to submit to the ‘judgment-free zone’ policy; therefore, defendants terminated plaintiffs’ Planet Fitness membership,” the complaint said.
The issue of males in private facilities originally intended for use by women has spread under the Obama administration’s advocacy for privileges for homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders.
The Obama bureaucracy even has ordered schools to open up bathrooms and changing facilities or lose federal funding.
Beale’s order noted he was not determining “whether transgender persons have any protected rights for the use of a locker room facility.”
He said the issue was whether a plaintiff has a cause of action against a business that is allowing a man to use a women’s locker room.
The company had publicly stated its “judgment-free zone” policy, but then terminated Cormier’s membership when she was in the process of telling other customers about it.
The appeal explains that Michigan precedent is that there “can never be a waiver of the right of privacy, in the absence of knowledge and consent of the person entitled to waive.”
“There was no language in the membership agreement that informed Mrs. Cormier of defendants’ privacy-invading policy. Nor did defendants ever inform Mrs. Cormier that she would have no privacy from men in her locker room when she signed up for the gym.
“It is impossible for Mrs. Cormier to have consented to defendants invading her privacy through their hostile policy because she did not know about it. … the trial court provided no reasoning as to how Planet Fitness’ slogan could have possibly provided such notice. The truth is that defendants’ policy was just as hidden from Mrs. Cormier.”
The appeal continued: “Undressing, showering, and using the restroom is a private matter. Mrs. Cormier had an expectation of privacy in the women’s locker room and showers. Defendants’ policy to allow men to use those same facilities invaded her privacy and culminated in a biological man being present in the locker room with her.
“Plaintiff believes that a reasonable person would find defendants’ policy highly offensive, and she has the right for a jury to make that determination.”
The main problem needs to be the focal point, the appeal states.
“It is perplexing that the trial court held, as a matter of law, a policy that encourages and enables men and women to get naked together, shower together, and change clothes together is not sexual in nature. In any other context, an adult biological man who showers naked with an unrelated 13-year-old girl would be sexual (and possibly criminal) in nature. … Why not here?”
The case also raises isssues of invasion of privacy, state law violations and denial of access to public accommodations.
“Further, defendants violated their own so-called ‘no judgment’ policy by negatively judging Mrs. Cormier for her normal and healthy desire for privacy, security, and freedom of sexual harassment,” the appeal explains.