A former janitor for an LA Fitness branch in Lower Bucks County is suing the fitness chain in federal court, alleging his termination was racially motivated.
Bristol, Pa. resident Eric Long claims in his civil action, which was filed at the federal court in Philadelphia April 11 by Bensalem employment attorney Ari R. Karpf, that his firing in late February of this year, which came a mere five months after he started working the job, was related to the disparaging treatment he received by his supervisors because of his race.
The lawsuit claims that Long, who is black, was often the butt of racially derogatory comments made by Josh Smith, an office manager at the gym, and Robert “Doe,” (last name unknown), a sales manager at the facility.
Both individuals are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, as is the LA Fitness in Bensalem, which is the location where Long worked, as well as LA Fitness International, the gym’s parent company.
The complaint alleges that both of Long’s supervisors made reference to the fact that Long had an association with a white female coworker.
The suit claims that the men “constantly” made inappropriate racial comments to the woman about Long, including asking her why she was associating with a black man, and why she would let a black man touch her.
The day before he was terminated, the lawsuit states, Long called out of work because his daughter-in-law was giving birth to a child.
Long had never called out of work prior to that occasion, the suit claims.
Nevertheless, Long was fired upon returning to work on Feb. 28.
Smith allegedly told Long that he did not “tolerate black [expletive] in the workplace,” and he proceeded to tell Long to get his “black [expletive] out of here,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating Long’s civil rights and for engaging in discriminatory termination.
“Plaintiff believes and therefore avers that Defendants discriminated against him and terminated him because he is African American,” the lawsuit states.
Long seeks to have the defendants prohibited from continuing their policy of discriminating against employees based on their race.
The plaintiff seeks to be compensated for lost and future earnings, as well as medical and other benefits.
Long also seeks unspecified punitive damages, damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering, and litigation costs.
He is demanding a jury trial.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01831-PD.