(CNSNews.com) -- The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a woman whose Planet Fitness membership was canceled after she objected to a transgender woman – a biological male who claims to be a female -- being in the women’s locker room.
The appeals court said Planet Fitness had potentially misled the woman because it did not inform her of its unwritten locker room policy when she joined the gym, and the case has been sent back to the Midland, Mich., trial court that had first ruled against the woman.
In a related case, Planet Fitness canceled another woman’s membership in Florida after she objected to a transgender person being in the women’s locker room.
In 2015, Yvette Cormier from Michigan saw a transgender “woman” in the Planet Fitness women’s locker room and informed the front desk. Cormier was told that it is Planet Fitness’ policy to allow people to use whichever locker room corresponds to the sex they identify with.
After learning about the policy, Cormier informed other women at the gym about the policy. As a result, Planet Fitness canceled her membership, claiming she had violated the gym’s “judgment-free zone” policy.
Cormier sued Planet Fitness in Midland County “alleging invasion of privacy; sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the [CRA]; breach of contract; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act [MCPA].”
In 2016, the trial court ruled in Planet Fitness’ favor to dismiss the lawsuit, and Cormier appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals that also upheld the lower court’s ruling. Cormier then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in April and remanded the case back to the appeals court.
The appeals court’s July 26 opinion stated that Cormier’s “actions indicate that she strongly preferred a locker room and a restroom in which individuals who are assigned biologically male are not present, and it is thus reasonable to infer that defendants’ [Planet Fitness] failure to inform plaintiff [Cormier] of the unwritten policy affected her decision to join the gym.”
Additionally, the court held that Cormier’s visits to Planet Fitness after she learned of their policy “does not preclude as a matter of law an inference that defendants’ [Planet Fitness] failure to inform her of the unwritten policy affected her decision to join the gym. That is because plaintiff [Cormier] was already a member of the gym when she learned of the unwritten policy and was thus subject to a financial penalty if she canceled her membership earlier than provided in the membership agreement.”
The case now goes back to the Midland County court.
In May, at another Planet Fitness in Florida, a woman named “Mrs. H.” “objected to a man, Jordan ‘Ivy’ Rice, invading her privacy in the women’s locker room,” stated Liberty Counsel, which represents the woman.
“Mrs. H.” said that Rice—who is a transgender woman (a biological man who identifies as a woman)—looked like and was dressed as a man when she found him “standing in front of the mirror ‘applying makeup,’ where he had a full view of every single woman entering or exiting the shower area and every single locker, Mrs. H.’s locker, which was directly behind him within three (3) feet," reads the letter, which was sent to Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau.
In an interview with ABC WFTV Channel 9, “Mrs. H.” said “He never told me he was transgender. I did not know. All I could see was there was a man in the locker room. He did not identify himself as transgender."
According to the letter, Rice was in the locker room “for at least an hour, ‘applying makeup,’” while she waited for him to leave. When he left, he was wearing the same clothes and had neither showered nor changed. There were also other incidents where women reported Rice being in the women’s locker rooms.
“A records request reveals that Mr. Rice (incredibly) had called the police to falsely report that he had been ‘sexually harassed’ by Mrs. H,” stated Liberty Counsel in its July 12 letter. “He can be heard on his 911 call, following Mrs. H. across the parking lot of the establishment, over into the next parking lot, calmly relaying to the dispatcher his and Mrs. H.’s appearances, a description of Mrs. H.’s vehicle, and the direction in which she was headed. The fact that he was and is a man was evident to the dispatcher, who repeatedly refers to him as ‘sir’ on that call. No police report was filed.”
Planet Fitness canceled “Mrs. H.’s” membership after she objected to Rice being in the women’s locker room. Even after Rice “transferred his membership to another Planet Fitness location,” “Mrs. H.’s” membership was not reinstated, states the letter.
“Mrs. H.” may file a lawsuit against Planet Fitness to have her membership reinstated and the following: “Revise Florida Planet Fitness policies to permit access to women’s restrooms and lockers based only on biological ‘sex;’ OR Add to all Florida membership contracts actual notice as follows: ‘Planet Fitness permits men to use women’s lockers and restrooms, and women to use men’s lockers and restrooms. There is no expectation of sex-based privacy within Planet Fitness facilities;’ AND Post prominent notices in the locker and shower facilities of Florida locations notifying members that they may encounter members of the opposite sex in areas traditionally reserved for single-sex use.”
The potential lawsuit is on hold pending a response to the Liberty Counsel letter from Planet Fitness.
The transgender woman, who now goes by the name Ivey Gardner, was interviewed by ABC WFTV Channel 9 and claimed that “Mrs. H.” told her that she “looked like a clown. She told me I looked like a man and I need to stop trying to appear as a woman.” Gardner also said that, “She may feel uncomfortable, but I feel like my life's in danger anytime someone approaches me like that.”
With regard to the 911 call, “Gardner said had she known that what she was reporting was a legal matter and not a police matter, she wouldn’t have called 911,” ABC WFTV Channel 9 reported.