MANHATTAN (CN) — Finding no religious discrimination at “The Women’s Gym,” a federal judge rejected the claims of a devout Jewish woman whom Lucille Roberts barred from working out in a knee-length skirt.
Yosefa Jalal had slapped the popular women’s chain with a lawsuit in October 2015, saying gym workers harassed her and threatened to call the police because of faith-guided fitness wear.
A resident of Brooklyn, Jalal said she wore the same style skirt without incident throughout her four-year membership, before being chased out of one Kings Highway location and then bombarded at a kickboxing class in Flatbush.
“Some participants screamed at Ms. Jalal,” her lawsuit states. “Ms. Jalal was embarrassed, upset, and shocked.”
Jalal’s attorneys alleged disparate treatment, saying that the gym owed Jalal public accommodation regardless of her skirt or if she wore ash on her forehead, as some Catholics do on the first day of Lent.
Neither is actually mentioned in the “Rules and Regulations” for Lucille Roberts members, a cheeky guide that encourages members to “dress appropriately.”
“This may be a ladies gym but you should still look your best,” the rules state. “Studies show you workout longer, faster and harder when you have on a nice outfit. Studies also show you’re 75 percent more likely to run into your ex on a day when you wear embarrassing sweatpants and a stained T-shirt.”
In tossing Jalal’s suit Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa found that the “lighthearted dress code” is a contract issue that does not arise to the level of a federal civil rights violation.
“Although plaintiff contends that she was treated differently than other Lucille Roberts members on the basis of her religion, the factual allegations only suggest that she was treated differently because she insisted on wearing an article of clothing that, according to defendant, was inappropriate gym attire,” the 13-page opinion states.
Jalal was represented by Ilann Maazel. An attorney with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, Maazel said his team will keep fighting. “Orthodox Jews should have a right to go to a gym just like everyone else,” Maazel said in an email. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and intend to appeal.”
Months before the filing of Jalal’s lawsuit, Emery Celli won a $4.48 million settlement for clients alleging shocking anti-Semitism at the Pine Bush school district in the Catskills. The firm failed, however, to reach a deal with Lucille Roberts in negotiations that took place late last year.
Alyson Knipe, an attorney for the gym with the firm Capehart & Scatchard, did not return an email seeking comment.