Today in horrible, depressing reminders of what it's like to live under rape culture: last year an Omaha woman, Megan Hunt, was sexually assaulted by a 24 Hour Fitness employee. Even though the attack was caught on tape, the company's corporate HR told Megan that they could not fire the employee for "legal reasons" and that "getting the police involved would be not worth [her] time."
When Megan finally gathered up the courage to begin working out again, she found out that her membership had been canceled without her permission — even though she had already paid for an entire year. Last week she called the gym manager, who told her that he didn't know anything about her case. The employee who assaulted her still works at the gym.
According to a Tumblr post written by Megan's friend (which now has over 35,000 notes):
What Megan wants is for this employee to be fired as a result of his behavior, for her paid membership to be reinstated, and for sexual harassment policies to be posted publicly in 24 Hour Fitness locations.
By choosing not to punish this employee for his behavior, they are enabling him and providing him opportunities to do the same to another woman again. By choosing not to punish this employee, 24 Hour Fitness is expressing that they have no regard for the safety and well being of their patrons.
The location's Facebook page has since been swamped with angry comments demanding that the employee be fired. For the past few days, the gym has been posting the following canned message:
We take matters of this nature seriously and assure you that the alleged behavior is not tolerated. We are currently addressing this incident.
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But how long should it take to fire someone who was caught sexually assaulting a customer on camera? It's sickening that this has gone on for so long. Delaying for a week and offering vague pseudo-apologies is a far cry from what should be done. The employee should be fired. Megan's membership should be reinstated. And 24 Hour Fitness needs to apologize and take responsibility for perpetuating misogyny and covering up sexual assault.
Image via Facebook.
UPDATE: Megan's friend has contacted me to clarify that she wasn't raped at the gym. She was sexually assaulted; the "rape" tag was misleading.