A gay attorney in Atlanta has filed suit against L.A. Fitness, one of the largest health club chains in the US, over an anti-gay incident.

Seth Persily, who says that he was subjected to anti-gay remarks and later assaulted during a visit to a branch of the health club popular with gay clientele, recently filed suit after the company failed to address his complaint about the altercation.

Persily’s suit against L.A. Fitness claims that an employee at one of its facilities in Atlanta made anti-gay comments and later accosted him in a locker-room on July 18. He says the company has still done nothing to respond to the complaint he made about the incident. The lawsuit demands damages for assault, slander and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit outlines the July 18 incident: While Persily worked out, a female gym guest and a gym employee were using a machine next to him. Both the woman and the gym employee made anti-gay remarks and when Persily asked them to stop, the L.A. Fitness employee said that “gays are nasty.”

The employee then challenged Persily to a physical confrontation and later, attempted to strike him in the locker-room after Persily asked other L.A. Fitness employees to help him file a complaint.

“When I went to the gym that morning, all I was interested in was working out. You never expect something like this to happen,” Persily said. “I don’t think any company, especially ones with a large gay clientele, should tolerate that kind of behavior from its employees.”

Persily says he filed a complaint at the health club immediately after the incident and spoke with the manager, but received no response. Steve Koval, Persily’s attorney, says he contacted the manager of the L.A. Fitness facility, who also did not respond to Persily’s complaint.

Persily says he hopes the lawsuit will encourage other gay men and lesbians to take a stand against being victimised. “When I saw this guy who was much bigger than me coming to attack me, I was quite scared. But after the incident was over, I knew that I didn’t have to be a victim and that I could force L.A. Fitness to deal with this if the company wouldn’t deal with it voluntarily,” he said.

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