RICHMOND, Ky. (WBON) — A social media post which alleged discrimination against a Richmond fitness center has gone viral.
Our news partners at WBON conducted an investigation into the incident, in which a person alleged that a woman was discriminated against because she did not speak English. Subsequent posts from the owner on Facebook say that the woman's inability to speak English was a safety hazard.
The original post from Robert Monraga states that his mother took a friend to "Fitness with Faith" in Richmond.
"My mom was a member at Fitness With Faith until today, last week she brought in a friend to sign up as a new member. The first thing the employee there did was ask if she spoke English, my mother’s friends English isn’t fluent, English is her second language. My mom started to help her friend translate when the employee was rude & told my mom to not translate. The employee proceed to ask my moms friend questions, she didn’t fully understand the questions so my mom started to help her again when the gym employee said to stop helping her, that if she couldn’t speak English she couldn’t join the gym," wrote Monraga.
A later post from gym owner Carolyn Tudor says that they expect members to speak a little English for safety purposes.
Tudor recently posted an apology statement on the Fitness with Faith Facebook page.
"Yes, we ask that our members be able to speak a little English for safety purposes. If there was an emergency and we gave directions, the member would need to understand. If member (sic) was using equipment improperly they could cause injury to their body- we could not explain the correct for them to understand. I'm sorry you don't understand our safety rules," wrote Tudor.
A local civil rights attorney told WBON that private entities such as Fitness with Faith therefore could be exempt from the discrimination laws due to ‘freedom of association, where they can then choose to associate with who they want, in private circumstances.
Another attorney pointed out that under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this case of discrimination could be punishable by law if it were pursued.
The Richmond Human Rights Commission also responded to the incident.