Muslim sues N.M. gym over head covering, alleges racial and religious discrimination

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A gym in New Mexico faces a lawsuit that touches on race and religion after a Muslim woman was told she could not work out while wearing a head covering.

Tarainia McDaniel has filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness that states the workout facility based a Oct. 3, 2011 decision to deny her access with a head covering upon her religion and possibly race, The Albuquerque Journal reported.


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“My client’s position is that they didn’t know the head covering was for religious purposes. It violated their dress code policy,” Planet Fitness attorney Erika Anderson told the Journal.

In a transcript of the case’s deposition, Ms. McDaniel acknowledged that she saw a Planet Fitness sign that said, “no jeans, work boots, bandanas, skull caps or revealing apparel,” The Journal reported.

However, she asserts that she made it known that she was a Muslim before signing a two-year contract. “I guess for the sake of the record, they’re referring to [the fabric over my head] as a head covering,” she said.

Ms. McDaniel’s complaint, which is filed under the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Unfair Practices Act, also states that at another gym she was told that the gym’s dress code was sometimes waived but that it could not be for a red head covering, the Journal reported.

District Judge Beatrice Brickhouse has scheduled an August bench trial for the civil case, the Journal reported.

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