Florida worker sues Planet Fitness with aid of Ben Crump, citing racial discrimination


ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — A Central Florida woman has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Planet Fitness, saying she has been passed over for a number of promotions during the years she has been working there.

The lawsuit says she has been passed over because of her race.

Representing her is nationally known attorney Ben Crump. Gathered at the stairs of the federal courthouse, attorney Ben Crump made a play on a Planet Fitness slogan, “the no judgment zone.”

Crump says Sunshine Fitness, a franchise company that owns multiple Planet Fitness centers, has been judging — discriminating against his client, T’Unica Mitchell, based on race.

Crumps says during the five years that Mitchell has been working for Planet Fitness, in multiple locations in Central Florida including Apopka, Eustis, and Leesburg, she has been passed over to be promoted at least ten times, with promotions going to people who were not African American, even once to a woman who Mitchell trained who had been working at Planet Fitness only eight months.

According to the lawsuit, a Planet Fitness manager once told Mitchell, “you would be a better assistant general manager down south.”

In the lawsuit, Mitchell said she had won numerous awards, had been praised by her managers, peers, fellow workers, and had great performance reviews.

In an email, Sunshine Fitness responded, in part, by saying, “We strongly deny the allegations made in this claim.” They went on to say they are, “deeply committed to inclusivity” and that nearly 25% of the general managers at Sunshine Fitness Management identify as Black or African American and nearly 50% identify as a minority.

Court records show that in 2002, T’Unica Mitchell sued a previous employer, Office Depot, also alleging she had been passed over for promotions. That case was settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

In response to the Office Depot lawsuit, Mitchell’s legal team said, in part, “Unfortunately, even in recent history, systemic racism within corporations remains a problem. When injustice occurs between employer and employee, brave individuals will speak out.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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