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Jalal v. Lucille Roberts Health Clubs Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 22, 2017

YOSEFA JALAL, Plaintiff,
v.
LUCILLE ROBERTS HEALTH CLUBS INC., Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Thomas P. Griesa United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Yosefa Jalal brings this action against defendant Lucille Roberts Health Clubs Inc., alleging discrimination in a place of public accommodation in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a; New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(2)(a); and New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107. Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         I. The Complaint

         The following allegations, which are accepted as true for purposes of this motion to dismiss, are taken from plaintiff's complaint.

         Plaintiff is a Jewish woman who, in public, wears a knee-length, fitted skirt. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 14-15. Defendant is a corporation that operates a chain of gyms under the name “Lucille Roberts.” Id. ¶ 18. Membership at defendant's gyms is only available to women. Id. ¶ 34. Defendant requires its members to abide by various rules and regulations, including the following dress code:

Dress appropriately. Flannel may be making a comeback this fall but it is still inappropriate gym attire. That also goes for denim and street clothes. This may be a ladies gym but you should still look your best. Studies show you workout longer, faster and harder when you have on a nice outfit. Studies also show you're 75% more likely to run into your ex on a day when you wear embarrassing sweatpants and a stained t-shirt.
Wear the right shoes. You must wear sneakers (the regular ones, not these new high-heeled kind) unless your class calls for dance shoes, socks or bare feet. That means no flip flops, sandals, boots, stilettos, flats or slippers. You laugh, but we've seen them all. Your chance of being fashionable is 100%. So is your chance of injury.

Id. Ex. A. The dress code does not specifically prohibit skirts. Id. ¶ 31.

         Plaintiff became a Lucille Roberts member in November 2011. Id. ¶ 33. Each time plaintiff went to a Lucille Roberts gym, she wore “a knee-length, fitted but comfortable skirt” while exercising. Id. ¶ 35. The skirt neither interfered with gym equipment nor posed a danger in classes offered by defendant. Id. ¶¶ 36, 38. Plaintiff went to Lucille Roberts gyms in Bay Shore, New York and Brooklyn, New York without incident for approximately two years. Id. ¶¶ 39-43.

         On October 3, 2013, plaintiff went to the Lucille Roberts location on Kings Highway in Brooklyn, New York. Id. ¶ 44. As was her usual practice, plaintiff wore a skirt to the gym. Id. Plaintiff was exercising on an elliptical when a manager approached and began shouting at her. Id. The manager told plaintiff that she could not exercise in a skirt. Id. Plaintiff went to the front desk, where she was again told she could not wear a skirt. Id. Plaintiff then left the premises. Id.

         Despite this encounter, plaintiff continued to exercise in a skirt at various Lucille Roberts locations, including the one on Kings Highway, over the next year. Id. ¶ 45-47. During that year, plaintiff used gym equipment-such as the elliptical-and participated in classes. Id. ¶ 48. Her outfit did not interfere with the equipment or classes, and Lucille Roberts staff members did not comment on it. Id. ¶ 49.

         On October 6, 2014, plaintiff wore a skirt to the Lucille Roberts location on Kings Highway. Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiff was using an elliptical when a staff member approached and told her she could not wear a skirt. Id. Plaintiff told the staff member that she needed to wear the skirt for religious reasons. Id. The staff member told plaintiff to speak with a manager. Id. ¶ 51.

         Plaintiff met with the manager and repeated her explanation that she must wear a skirt for religious reasons. Id. ¶ 52. The manager told plaintiff that she could not exercise in a skirt, but could instead wear a long t-shirt. Id. Wearing a long t-shirt, though, would not comply with plaintiff's religious beliefs. Id. ΒΆ 53. Because the manager told ...


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