An Orthodox Jewish woman is suing the Lucille Roberts health-club chain for allegedly pitching a holy fit when she insisted on wearing a skirt during her workouts in Brooklyn, The NY Post reports.
Yosefa Jalal, of Crown Heights, claims in court papers to be filed Friday that she was repeatedly harassed, threatened with arrest and ultimately had her membership revoked for following religious dictates regarding female modesty, which was reported on COLlive.com in July of 2015.
“I think it’s wrong what they did to me. I should be able to work out in a skirt,” Jalal, 25, told the NY Post.
“Just because I’m an observant Jew doesn’t mean that I should be treated like a criminal and shouldn’t be allowed to work out. It’s just not fair.”
Jalal’s Manhattan federal suit accuses the women’s-only fitness company of religious discrimination in violation of federal, state and city statutes.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, along with a court order forcing Lucille Roberts to reinstate her membership and prohibiting it “from discriminating on the basis of religion, and in particular, discriminating against observant-Jewish women.”
Jalal “observes the Jewish rules of modesty” and in public always “wears skirts and tights to cover her legs, and shirts that cover her elbows and come to her neck.”
After joining the gym in 2011, Jalal wore a skirt while working out at various branches where she used an elliptical machine and took weight-lifting, kickboxing and Zumba classes, the suit says.
Her workout attire first became an issue at a Kings Highway location, where she was told in 2013 and again the next year that she couldn’t wear her skirt, the NY Post reports.
Instead, she started going to a Lucille Roberts on Flatbush Avenue regularly until June 26 of this year, when a manager accused her of “ ‘trespassing’ because she was not wearing appropriate attire,” the suit alleges.
“I went to join a class that was going on, and ten minutes into it the lady at the desk came in and told the instructor to stop the class unless I took off my skirt,” she told COLlive. “I refused, so she stopped the class. Many of the participants were unhappy but she did not restart the class,” she said.
“She comes back to me saying that my membership has been revoked; I am trespassing and must leave. She also said the cops are on the way,” Jalal said.
Jalal’s lawyer called it “completely indefensible.”
“We don’t have different health clubs for Christians, for Muslims, for Hindus and for Jews,” said Ilann Maazel, of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “Health clubs in New York City should be for everybody, whether you wear a cross, a Star of David or a skirt.”
A lawyer for Lucille Roberts declined to comment.