LA Fitness apologises after racial profiling accusations

LA fitness fired staff and apologised after two black men were told to leave despite having memberships.

    Employees of the LA Fitness wrongly accused a black member and his guest of not paying to work out [Julio Cortez/The Associated Press]
    Employees of the LA Fitness wrongly accused a black member and his guest of not paying to work out [Julio Cortez/The Associated Press]

    A US fitness company has fired three of its staff after two black men accused them of racial profiling.

    Videos of the men being kicked out of a New Jersey gym garnered more than 4m combined views after they were uploaded on Monday by Tshyrad Oates. 

    "You kicked me out the gym for no reason," Oates's unnamed friend can be heard saying in one of the clips. 

    "I've been a member here for at least eight years. You've got the cops here, you've got the police here."

    Oates himself had joined his friend on a four-day guest pass.

    In a statement issued on Wednesday, LA Fitness said it had apologised to the gym member.

    "Regrettably, our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it," it said.

    #BoycottStarbucks

    The controversy comes on the heels of an incident at a Philadelphia branch of coffee chain Starbucks. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested last week while they were waiting for a business meeting.

    The arrest of the two men led to days of protests and the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks going viral on Twitter.

    Starbucks issued an apology and vowed to close down more than 8,000 stores for one day in May for racial bias training for their staff.

    Speaking out on Good Morning America on Thursday, Robinson, 23, said: "I want to make sure this situation doesn't happen again.

    "What I want is for a young man or young men not to be traumatised by this; and instead, motivated and inspired." 

    Other US companies have recently been under fire for racial profiling.

    In February, restaurant chain Applebee's apologised to two women who were accused of ordering food and leaving without paying at a Missouri branch a day prior. 

    "After being mocked, humiliated, and embarrassed, we were asked to pay for our food, leave, and not come back," Alexis Brison said in a Facebook post.

    And in March, Pancake restaurant IHOP drew criticism when a manager at a location in Maine asked a group of black teens to pay for their meals upfront.

    IHOP too issued an apology, saying they have "zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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