The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has settled with LA Fitness to ensure people with disabilities can use the company's gyms in Minnesota.
The settlement stems from an investigation that found LA Fitness in New Brighton removed non-slip rubber mats in its locker rooms, MDHR said in a news release said. The gym had the mats "for years" to keep members from slipping.
Gym member Greg Reid, who has a mobility disability, "repeatedly" asked the gym to reinstall the mats or add handrails, but LA Fitness ignored his requests, the release added.
MDHR said this violates the gym's policy to be responsive whenever someone requests an accommodation. And by not reinstalling the mats or adding handrails, the gym denied Reid equal access, which is a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
“Ensuring that public places are accessible to people with disabilities is critical to building an inclusive and thriving Minnesota,” MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in the release. “This case is a reminder to all businesses that when spaces are accessible, when they are universally designed, they not only benefit people with disabilities, but in many situations, everyone using those spaces benefits.”
The settlement between MDHR and Fitness International LLC, which operates more than 700 LA Fitness gyms across North America, resolves the case and requires LA Fitness to ensure people with disabilities can use the gyms in Minnesota without experiencing discrimination.
The settlement also requires the company to install handrails in both of its locker rooms at the New Brighton LA Fitness, the release said.
“I’m happy I could make things safer and better for myself and for all people with disabilities who use LA Fitness in Minnesota,” Reid said in a statement.
Bring Me The News has reached out to Fitness International LLC for comment.
According to the Star Tribune, LA Fitness denied discriminating against Reid. The gym will have to also create and maintain a policy of providing reasonable accommodations to people who request them and pay $1,000 to the State of Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Reid and LA Fitness reached a separate settlement but terms were not disclosed, the paper said.
MDHR says about 11% of Minnesotans report having a disability, and disability discrimination is "consistently" one of the largest areas of discrimination the department investigates.
Anyone who has been discriminated against due to a disability can call the discrimination helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this form online.