U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Fitness Facility Fires Female Employee for Complaining About Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Raleigh-based BF-Southeast, LLC, doing business as Professional Fitness, violated federal law by discharging a female employee because she complained about sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Quiannta Mauney, a personal trainer employed by Professional Fitness, was subjected to sexual comments and stares from her direct supervisor at a health club in Greenville. Mauney felt that she was being sexually harassed, so she submitted an online complaint regarding the harassment to Professional Fitness on January 10, 2008. The supervisor resigned, but the company transferred one of Mauney’s clients to another trainer. When Mauney called her area manager to inquire about the client transfers, the area manager terminated Mauney in a profanity-laced conversation because of her complaints about sexual harassment. The manager told Mauney that she had “ruined [her former supervisor’s] life” by reporting him for sexual harassment, and then told her to leave the heath club, the EEOC said.
Retaliation for complaints of sexual harassment or other forms of employment discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (EEOC v. BF-Southeast, LLC d/b/a Professional Fitness, Civil Action No. 6:10-cv-02538), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The EEOC seeks back pay and reinstatement, along with past and future pecuniary losses, past and future non-pecuniary expenses, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
“Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.”
Professional Fitness provides fitness training to customers through relationships with various health clubs throughout the country. Professional Fitness works with over 80 health club locations in more than 20 different markets. The company holds itself out as the largest privately owned personal training company in the country.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.