Disabled Army veteran claims discrimination in lawsuit against Planet Fitness
By ALLISON DUNN | The Blade | Published: May 13, 2020
TOLEDO (Tribune News Service) — An honorably discharged Army veteran claims in a lawsuit that a gym franchise in Toledo discriminated against him when it didn’t rehire him after he was injured during a deployment.
Connor Ryan of Oregon claims he was discriminated against by his former employer, Planet Fitness at 2630 W. Laskey Road, based on his disabilities following a broken hip while he was deployed with the Army.
Ryan worked as a member services representative at the gym from November 2017 until May 2, 2018, when he notified his manager that he had enlisted in the Army and he gave notice that his last day would be May 11, 2018, because he was scheduled to be deployed later that month, court records show.
While he was deployed, Ryan suffered a broken hip that affected his ability to stand for long periods of time, according to the complaint.
“Despite this actual or perceived disabling condition, Ryan was still able to perform functions of the member services representative position,” the lawsuit states.
Ryan was honorably discharged from the Army on Sept. 6, 2018. Four days later, he called his manager at Planet Fitness to request to return to work under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
Ryan was directed to speak with the gym’s regional manager, who informed Ryan that he would be rehired if he provided proper discharge records — which he did.
However, Ryan then made multiple attempts to contact the regional manager and his immediate supervisor. He claims they did not immediately respond.
On Feb. 9, 2019, Ryan’s manager informed him that his return to work request was denied and he would not be re-hired. There was no basis to support the denial, according to the lawsuit.
Ryan claims he was treated differently than similarly-situated employees based on his disabling or perceived disabling condition.
"We believe this lawsuit is without merit. Given pending litigation, we cannot comment further," said McCall Gosselin, a spokesman for Planet Fitness.
Ryan is seeking in excess of $25,000 per charge for the four allegations against the gym.
Ryan previously filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Planet Fitness. On Feb. 13, the EEOC issued a notice of Ryan’s right to sue.