Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Legal Case: Man Demands Right to Shower with Women

Ontario fitness club caught in no-win legal dilemma as man, who plans to be a woman in the future, wants to use women's locker room now

-- From "Fitness club faces human rights hearing" The Canadian Press 2/26/09

The owner of a downtown St. Catharines fitness club faces a mediation hearing today for allegedly denying a pre-operation transsexual access to the women's only areas of his gym.

The transsexual -- now a woman, but a man at the time of the incident two years ago -- is taking the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, John Fulton [the fitness club owner] said Tuesday.

Fulton said he wasn't sure what to do because his female clients might not be comfortable with a man in their changing room. "To me it was not a big deal, I just don't know how my women would feel about having a guy showering with them," he said. "He still hadn't had his operation yet."

Fulton said he told the person he had to check how to handle the situation and make sure he wouldn't get sued by his female clients.

"Within the day, I was getting calls and members coming in and threatening to quit if I let this guy join," Fulton said.

Fulton said he called Human Rights and was told he had to let the man use the women's facilities. But he said he couldn't get an answer on what his rights and the rights of his female clients are.

Then he got a letter from a lawyer asking for money and an apology, Fulton said.

To read the entire article (above), CLICK HERE.

There was no settlement at the mediation hearing -- the case proceeds. . .

Now the update from "The rights wheel of fortune" Opinion by Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail 3/3/09

[In the Canadian Human Rights legal system,] the offended party gets a free lawyer. Win or lose, he pays nothing. But the defendant always pays. If he [John Fulton] decides to put up a fight, he might have to spend $100,000, maybe more, even if he wins. The case could drag on for years.

Lawyers who act for people such as Mr. Fulton usually advise them to settle. That typically entails a modest sum of money paid to the complainant, an abject letter of apology, and an agreement to post a prominent sign guaranteeing (for example) equal treatment for all self-identified women, regardless of the configuration of their private parts. They must also agree never to disclose the settlement or any of the details.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission boasts that its mediation process achieves a phenomenally high settlement rate. Now you know why. Many companies have come to regard these payouts as just another cost of doing business.

To read the entire article (above), CLICK HERE.