Litigation

Suit Involving Transgender Person in Women's Locker Room Can Continue

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled that a lawsuit over a transgender woman in a woman’s locker room at a Midland, Michigan health club can proceed.  The suit, brought by Plaintiff Yvette Cormier, asserts that her membership at the Midland Planet Fitness health club was wrongly terminated in 2015 after she warned other women at the club of the transgender woman in the woman’s locker room. Planet Fitness told her that it allows people to use the locker room that matches their identity.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Cormier could proceed with her suit arguing that her rights under Michigan's consumer-protection law were violated when the club didn't disclose the unwritten policy. The Court summarized the facts as follows:

Plaintiff entered into a membership agreement to use defendants' Planet Fitness gym facility in Midland on January 28, 2015. On February 28, 2015, she entered the women's locker room and encountered a transgender individual (a man who identified as a woman). Plaintiff left the locker room and told the front desk that there was a man in the women's locker room. Plaintiff was advised that it was defendants' policy that people have access to the facility that corresponds with whatever sex with which an individual self-identifies. Defendant's corporate office later advised plaintiff that this was consistent with their policy of not judging whether an individual is a man or a woman. Plaintiff returned to the gym several times in the ensuing days and warned other women about the policy and to be careful when using the women's facilities. On March 4, 2015, defendants terminated plaintiff's membership.

The Court stated that Corimer sufficiently sets forth claims of violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), Mich. Comp. Laws § 445.903(1)(s), (bb), and (cc) based on her claim that Planet Fitness represented that there were separate locker rooms, shower and restroom facilities for men and women and in having an unwritten policy allowing men who self-identify as women to use the women's facilities. The Court further found that Corimer sufficiently asserted that defendants violated Mich. Comp. Laws § 445.903(1)(s) to withstand summary judgment by failing to reveal a material fact to her that she could not have reasonably known--that they allowed assigned men to use the women's locker room and restrooms with women; violated Mich. Comp. Laws § 445.903(1)(bb) by making a material representation of fact that her membership included access to a private women's locker room and restrooms, but did not disclose to her its policy that assigned men who self-identify as women can use the women's locker room and restrooms, and; violated Mich. Comp. Laws § 445.903(1)(cc) by failing to reveal the material fact that they allowed assigned men who self-identify as women to use the women's locker room and restrooms. The Court noted that a material fact for purposes of the MCPA would be one that is important to the transaction or affects the consumer's decision to enter into the transaction.

Lexis Advance® subscribers can access the full opinion at:  Cormier v. Pf Fitness-Midland, No. 331286, 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 2938 (Ct. App. July 26, 2018)  

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Author:  Gabriela Nolen, Lexis-Nexis Case Law Editor

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