As the march for LGBT rights has blazed through marriage equality and into new territories, businesses around the country have found themselves in hot water over transgender-related policies. Earlier this year, Planet Fitness in Midland, MI ran into some such trouble when a member was horrified by the presence of a transgender woman in the women’s locker room.
The member, 48-year-old Yvette Cormier, noticed a transgender woman in the Midland Planet Fitness locker room in late February, and began to warn other gym members that “a man” was using the women’s locker room. When Cormier took her concerns to the front desk, she was told that the individual identifies as a woman. Unsatisfied, Cormier escalated her concerns to the corporate level, only to be met with one of the company’s regular slogans: Planet Fitness is a “no judgment zone.” Yvette Cormier says she then cancelled her membership and sought legal action. Cormier and her lawyer filed a complaint, charging that the Planet Fitness policy regarding transgender individuals puts women and children at risk, and encourages “possible criminal activity, including potential indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, and child abuse criminal actions.”
Now, representatives for both the Planet Fitness parent company and the Midland location are seeking dismissal for the case, arguing that Cormier’s complaint contains no allegation of legitimate criminal offense, or of any activity that may have created a hostile or sexually inappropriate environment. In their response, lawyers for the defendants cite a variety of cases, both open and closed, that concern transgender use of bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.–many of which have ruled in favor of transgender rights. They also point out that Cormier’s concerns are targeted toward existing non-discriminatory policies, and that to reverse it could invite a deluge of new lawsuits by transgender individuals charging Planet Fitness with discrimination. Ultimately, their response says, Cormier’s claims are “factually and/or legally deficient, and must be dismissed.”
Cormier’s representative, lawyer Dave Kallman, remains unfazed. Regardless of the motion for dismisssal, Kallman appears confident in the strength of the original complaint, and is ready for a judge to rule. A hearing is currently scheduled for September 25th, 2015.