LA Fitness apologizes after black men asked to leave, cops called
SECAUCUS — LA Fitness has apologized to a longtime member after his encounter with employees that resulted in police being called by those workers.
Tshyrad Oates posted four videos of Monday night's incident at the Secaucus location on his Facebook page and told the story of how he was asked to leave while working out using a four-day guest pass. Oates said after about a half hour, an employee told him he had to pay to work out or leave the club because his friend, whose name was not disclosed, didn't pay.
"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 wrote. Both Oates and his friend are black.
Oates said the employees called Secaucus Police officers, and officers showed up to remove the pair from the club after a manager said Oates was banned and his friend's membership was "terminated."
At one point in the videos, the friend says he and Oats are "the only two black people in the gym. I've been having problems with this staff for months — over nothing." He also says he's the only member of the gym made to scan in repeatedly.
In a statement to NJ.com, LA Fitness said its staff "regrettably" ramped up the situation by calling police, and confirmed the member's longtime membership. The club said it has apologized to the member and said Oates was not banned. It's not clear if the statement was issued by the Secaucus facility's management or their corporate office.
An employee earlier told NJ.com that the three employees involved had been fired.
"Thanks again to everyone supporting and helping the push for action to be taken place," Oates wrote on his Facebook page, adding that his attorney advised he not speak with the media.
The incident took place in the wake of an incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia after store employees called police on two black men employees said were sitting at a table without ordering anything. The men said they were waiting on a third person to arrive for to discuss a business deal.
Starbucks announced it will close all of its 8,000 U.S. stores the afternoon of May 29 for racial bias training for its nearly 17,500 employees.
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