Not allowing man to work out in boots costs Surrey gym $2,000

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal says Platinum Athletic Club discriminated against Keith Wollenberg based on physical disability.

A Surrey gym has been ordered to pay just under $2,000 by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal for not allowing a man to work out in hiking boots.

Keith Wollenberg filed a complaint against Platinum Athletic Club last spring alleging discrimination because the gym refused to let him wear supportive footwear due to a “tendon disability.”

Wollenberg claimed that in recent years he had suffered increasing discomfort when doing lunges he’d been doing for at least a decade. His physiotherapist recommended he wear hiking-type boots during the exercise so his feet would remain more rigid. Wollenberg said he had began wearing the boots for that exercise in 2009 and would change back to normal gym shoes for the rest of his workout. He said he had worn such boots in other gyms without question.

Within weeks of joining Platinum in March 2011, Wollenberg said he noticed a posted dress code that said “no boots.” He explained his situation to staff and asked if he could be exempted from the rule. Ramon Clarke, who was general manager of the gym at the time, told him his request would not be granted.

Wollenberg then took the matter to the tribunal, alleging discrimination based on physical disability, contrary to the Human Rights Code.

Though a gym representative did not attend the tribunal hearing, its response was that Wollenberg wanted to wear “work boots,” which they argued were not a “medically prescribed necessity” and which violated gym rules requiring proper workout attire.

Tribunal chair Bernd Walter said medical evidence showed Wollenberg does, in fact, have a disability which affects his feet and that Platinum failed to accommodate that disability by refusing his use of adaptive footwear.

“As a result, he was unable to utilize his membership as frequently as he had intended to do, and suffered the inconvenience of having to perform an integral part of his exercise regimen elsewhere,” wrote Walter in his decision. “His use of the gym dropped by half. The value of his membership decreased. He was adversely affected by the gym’s decision to deny his request.”

Walter ordered the gym to pay Wollenberg $400 for his reduced use of Platinum’s facilities, $500 for wages he lost pursuing the complaint and $16 for parking to attend the hearing. Walter also ordered compensation of $1,000 for “injury to his [Wollenberg’s] dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

The complaint was heard on May 3 and the decision was posted online this week.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey denturist goes mobile

Dr. Sarwar Sarwari, of True Fit Denture Centre, has had the van up and running for a month

New 10-bed substance use program opens in Surrey

It’s described as a ‘soft landing’ for people who are coming out of detox

Surrey’s Johnston Heights reporting COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

White Rock Playhouse, Bell Centre lit up red in support of entertainment workers

Facilities across Canada participated in national Light Up Live movement on Sept. 22

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read