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Sep 6

Former GM suing PNW Fitness operator – Capitol Hill Times

Editor's Note: The Capitol Hill Times received a copy of Vincent Rubio's lawsuit by mail, in an unaddressed envelope. It is unclear who sent CHT a copy of the lawsuit. To ensure balanced reporting, we acquired a copy of BW Fitness LLC's answer to the allegations in Rubio's claim. We have also left a message with Rubio's attorney, which went unanswered on Tuesday. This story will be updated when more information is available.

The operator of Pacific Northwest Fitness in Capitol Hill is denying allegations by a former general manager that they discriminated against him and created a hostile work environment prior to his firing.

Vincent Rubio claims in his lawsuit that BW Fitness, LLC cofounder Paul Spears made homophobic remarks about him during his time at Pacific Northwest Fitness and, furthermore, shared his religious beliefs to staff and used them when operating the business. Rubio alleges he was wrongfully terminated on March 18, 2015, and that Spears went on to fire several LGBTQ staff members.

BW Fitness denies all discrimination allegations by Rubio, as well as claims by the former general manager that he is still due back pay and damages.

The complaint states Rubio began working as general manager at Pacific Northwest Fitness then a Golds Gym in December 2010. BW Fitness, for which Spears is the registered agent, admits Rubios claim that the Capitol Hill location met a majority of its sales and membership goals while he was there.

Rubio claims Spears dislikes members of the LGBTQ community, and that he believed Rubio was gay. Rubio claims Spears opposed his request to have the Capitol Hill gym participate in the 2010 PrideFest, and that it was former BW vice president Taylor Carrara and Spears business partner, Michael Williams, that green lit that years participation. The former GM alleges the two men then had to convince Spears to let the gym participate in 2011, stating Spears stated his intent to boycott the 2011 PrideFest because the events did not agree with his values as a Christian man.

In its answer to Rubios lawsuit, BW denies Spears opposed PrideFest participation, but did acknowledge Williams and Carrara gave the approval in 2010. BW also denies Rubios claim that Spears needed convincing to participate in the 2011 PrideFest, and that he made negative comments about the LGBT community during the event.

Rubio claims he and Spears frequently disagreed over implementation of LGBT-oriented policies at the gym, such as adding life partners onto gym accounts, transgender bathroom use, and prohibitions of certain tattoos or shirts with LGBT-progressive slogans.

BW Fitness denies these allegations.

Defendants admit the company does not allow family usage of gym accounts and that all gym members must buy single memberships, regardless of their sexual orientation, lifestyle choices, or marital status, according to BWs answer to the lawsuit. Defendants further admit the company allowed its members to use whichever bathroom is consistent with their gender identification.

Rubio claims and BW denies that Spears would often refer to LGBT gym members as your kind when speaking to him, and implied that Rubio engaged in voyeurism in the mens locker room.

Pacific Northwest Fitness had once been a Golds Gym franchisee. BW states it ended the franchisee agreement after the CEO of Golds Gyms parent company, TRT Holdings, gave $2 million to a conservative political group that supported anti-LGBTQ politicians.

Rubio claims a dispute between Spears and Williams resulted in the business partners dividing their authority over BWs locations, with Spears retaining the Capitol Hill and Downtown gyms. BW clarifies that the Downtown gym was never controlled by the LLC.

Defendants admit Mr. Spears and Mr. Williams were business partners before a very acrimonious split in 2014 based, in part, on serious allegations that Mr. Williams had physically molested Mr. Spearss daughter, according to BWs answer to the lawsuit.

There is no one by the name of Michael Williams in King Countys sex offender registry who was convicted of molestation after 2014.

Rubio elected to stay at the Capitol Hill gym for advancement opportunities, which BW denies it suggested, though the LLC states the former general manager was thanked for remaining at that location. The Spears deny telling him he was the number one GM in the company.

BW and Spears deny the cofounder wanted to restructure the locations as a family unit comprised of his family and those who shared his Christian values.

Spears denies in BW Fitness answer to Rubios complaint that he frequently quoted scripture at employee meetings or included religious quotations in company emails. Rubio claims Spears had thought he too was a Christian, finding out the former general manager was an atheist in 2014.

Following this discovery, Mr. Rubio began to experience additional problems in his relationship with Mr. Spears, the complaint states.

BWs answer to the complaint states Spears didnt know Rubio was an atheist until he was told so during the meeting where Rubio was fired. The answer further states Rubio told Spears he was an ordained minister, and that Spears had attended an employees wedding that Rubio officiated.

Rubio was suspended for two days without pay in mid-March 2015 after attending a dinner with Williams, Carrara and his wife in Santa Monica, California.

The former general manager had been in town for the annual International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) trade show. Spears admits he told Rubio to stay away from Williams and his vice president, Carrara.

Rubio states the dinner did not take place until after Spears had excused him from business matters and he was no longer on company time, which BW denies was the case. In BW and Spears answer to the complaint, they state it was a business dinner, which was paid for by a business vendor.

Spears saw a photo from the dinner on social media. He questioned Rubio about it on March 16, 2015, and then suspended him for two days. Two days later, Spears had Rubio meet him at his private office at a gas station he owns in Redmond, which is where Rubios employment was terminated.

Rubio alleged during that meeting that Spears referred to Williams as the devil, and that he did not want to be within ten miles of anyone who wants anything to do with the devil.

The defendants deny this statement, as well as Rubios claim that Spears told him his firing was personal and not because of his employee performance.

Defendants admit Mr. Rubio was let go because he repeatedly disobeyed instructions, displayed general poor judgment, and was not performing his job satisfactorily, according to BW Fitness answer to Rubios complaint.

BW also denies that Rubio is owed back pay, forward pay or for any commissions during January and February 2015. The LLC further denies that Ryan Ching, who was promoted to take Rubios position as general manager, was in Spears family unit or attended the same church as him. The answer also denies firing several LGBT employees shortly after Rubios termination.

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Former GM suing PNW Fitness operator - Capitol Hill Times

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