A former manager of a Planet Fitness sued the well-known gym claiming that the company supported a male-dominated, and “debaucherous” workplace. Among her complaints are allegations of sexual harassment and rape. Senior management for the Planet Fitness location headquarters organized drinking activities for the employees. For example, “Fireball Friday.”
Fireball Friday games had employees competing to drink the most shots in the least amount of time at work. One manager also brought vodka-based gummy worms to work. Casey Willard joined the company in 2015. When she was new on the job, she followed her managers’ direction and doing so sometimes left her at work and drunk by 11:00 in the morning.
Willard filed suit against Planet Fitness in September. Amid a number of employment law violations, Willard also alleges that she was drugged and raped by a company manager and his friends during a September 2017 business trip to California. According to the lawsuit, she reported the rape to the local police and to Planet Fitness. It is not clear what became of the police report or what action was taken by law enforcement. Willard discussed the problem with two Planet Fitness attorneys and clearly stated that she didn’t want others at the company to know what happened to her, but later discovered that other managers knew of the situation.
Willard also claimed in the lawsuit that one of her managers initiated a sexual relationship with her; which was in violation of the company’s anti-fraternization policy. She was concerned that she might lose her job due to the situation. She eventually let the company know (earlier this year) that she couldn’t return to work.
Willard described the work environment at the Planet Fitness corporate offices as “debaucherous.” Senior management was mostly male and most of them made “openly sexual comments, sexual innuendo, and engaged in pretend sexual contact toward female employees.” In response to Willard’s claims, Planet Fitness states that they investigated Willard’s claims and fired an employee for violation of Planet Fitness policy. The company stated that they also discovered that Willard engaged in a consensual relationship with a supervisor that she didn’t bring to the company’s attention. That supervisor was also fired. The company disputes Willard’s other allegations and claims they are baseless.
Willard seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages arising from sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, discrimination and wrongful termination.
If you are fighting sexual harassment in the workplace or if you need to discuss what to do when your employer supports a hostile work environment, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.