April 30, 2014 -- A pregnant woman claims she was told to cover up or leave a South Carolina Planet Fitness last week said she's not comfortable working out in public anymore -- at least not for the remainder of her pregnancy.
The incident that took place at a West Ashley, S.C. gym has made headlines, but Melissa Mantor said she's just looking for a sincere apology, "not only to me, but to anyone who has become a victim of your discriminatory policy," as stated in a letter to Planet Fitness sent today and obtained by ABC News.
According to Mantor, she was working out at the gym in a tank top she'd worn many times before -- in fact, the one she wore on the day she joined Planet Fitness.
Mantor said she was approached by a staff member who said she was in violation of the gym's dress code -- a code, Mantor said, she was never aware of. The staff member told Mantor her "belly was hanging out," a fact which Mantor conceded.
She was about 19 weeks pregnant at the time.
The staff member, Mantor said, told her to cover up or leave, and handed her a "huge" black t-shirt. She said she was told her membership would be revoked if she did not change immediately.
"The only variable is that I'm now pregnant," Mantor said. "I've worn that shirt to work out many times."
Mantor said that while she's been contacted by dozens of attorneys since the incident, she has no intention of suing Planet Fitness. She's been talking to the media, she said in her letter to the company, "because I feel I would be doing anyone else who possesses membership at Planet Fitness a disservice by exposing them to the possibility of their own case of discrimination, embarrassment, and unnecessary attention."
In an emailed statement to ABC News, McCall Gosselin, Director of Public Relations at Planet Fitness Corporate said, "The majority of Planet Fitness clubs are owned and operated by individual franchisees. Our corporate dress code policy, which is enforced at the discretion of club staff, states that jeans, boots, men’s string tank tops, or revealing clothing are prohibited. This particular location also had a stated policy that prohibited bare midriffs. In this instance, staff informed the member of the policy and offered her a free t-shirt to complete her workout. She was not asked to leave the gym as a result of her attire.
"The franchise owner has contacted the member directly to address the situation. At Planet Fitness, we are committed to providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone.”
Mantor told ABC News that she was in fact contacted by the franchise owner soon after the incident. The first phone call, said Mantor, was apologetic. The one that followed was much more chilly.
"He said 'you were in violation, we gave you a t-shirt, there's nothing left to talk about,'" she recalled.
As for Mantor, she said she feels "pretty crappy" about the whole incident and "broken down to pieces."
"I don't understand how they can claim to be a 'no-judgement' gym and then pick and choose who to judge," she said.
And as for Mantor, she's got about 20 more weeks to go before she delivers her second child. But she's cancelled her Planet Fitness membership and isn't interested in joining a new gym yet.
"Jillian Michaels DVDs are my new best friend," she said.