A news station out of South Carolina launched an investigative report after they heard a local disabled Veteran had been fired for being disabled. The Veteran, Jonathan Brown, has filed a lawsuit against the company. Lexington County court filings show the reason that New life Fitness World terminated Jonathan Brown on July 31 was “disabled veteran.” The reason was noted on Brown’s “Employment Status Change” form attached to the lawsuit. Now it is one thing to discriminate and try to cover it up, but this douche actually wrote it down on the discharge!
Here is an excerpt from the story, courtesy of WIS News:
Brown worked as a manager at the gym’s Charter Oak Road location in Lexington for nearly two years. Brown recently returned home after a deployment to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Marine left the service after an eye injury prevented him from continuing on in the military. His injuries are to both eyes and he’s receiving treatment from the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA hospital in Columbia on a near-weekly basis.
“The VA is just like the military. If you miss an appointment, you might not get another one to actually let them help you with your problem,” Brown told WIS. Military doctors don’t know what’s causing the blurriness and shaking in both eyes, according to Brown.
Brown was a gunner on a Bradley vehicle in Iraq, firing a 25MM weapon known to the military as a 25 “Mike Mike.” Brown isn’t sure whether firing the weapon had anything to do with his disabling eye condition.
On July 30, Brown said he got called into the office by his new regional manager to talk about his VA doctor’s appointments, “It was kind of a surprise. He came in and wanted to sit down with me after I turned in some medical work, saying I needed to go to the VA a few times. We sat in the office and he said he just had to let me go—for; it just wouldn’t work out,” Brown said.
Brown said his boss, Jonathan Moreno, told him the reason he had to fire him was because he was a disabled veteran and wouldn’t allow any discussion of his decision. “His mind was made up by the time he was even walking into the building,” Brown said.
Brown said he was willing to work nights and weekends in order to make up the lost time, but said Moreno wouldn’t entertain the arrangement. It was something Brown was already doing after working an arrangement out with his previous manager, “I stayed a lot later. Usually I’m supposed to be done by seven. I wouldn’t leave the gym until easily nine or 10 o’clock, just to make sure I had everything straightened up and ready to roll for the next day.”
“I have not seen a case that is so spelled out in black and white and is so clear a violation of the law, and obviously they need an education,” Brown’s attorney James Smith said. Smith, an Iraqi War veteran himself, filed the lawsuit for Brown in September. Smith said employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with disabilities and argues that Brown’s willingness to make up lost time was fair to both sides. “Those are reasonable accommodations, which must be made by an employer and they just need to understand that. Apparently they don’t,” Smith said.
We went to Moreno, who works at Gold’s Gym in Lexington after leaving New Life Fitness World a few weeks after he fired Brown, for his side of the story. Moreno calls the claim that he fired Brown because he’s a “disabled veteran,” “horse [expletive].” Moreno’s signature is at the bottom of the form, approving Brown’s firing, which is marked, “disabled veteran.”
Moreno told WIS the reason he fired Brown was because of customer service complaints, the gym was not clean and that Brown was not meeting his sales goals. Moreno declined an on camera interview to explain his decision to fire Brown. Brown’s final pay check shows the gym paid him $150 in bonuses for meeting production, sales and membership goals. Moreno referred us to his former bosses for comment.”
Here is a snapshot of Jonathan’s final check, with the bonus:
Another excerpt from WIS:
When Brown went to work for New Life Fitness World, he worked under Jody Parks, who was the general manager before Moreno took over. Parks told WIS that he’d worked out a plan that would allow Brown time to make his VA appointments, but would require him to make up his missed time. “He was able to basically come back in and make up the time that he had missed. It was fair on that level,” Parks said.
Parks now manages a competing gym in Lexington. “He didn’t come in and say, ‘Hey I did this, can I make it up?’ It was something that was set up beforehand, so we kind of knew in advance,” Parks said. Parks said the gym was aware of his war injuries when they hired Brown in November 2010. Brown was an essential part of the mix at the Lexington location, according to Parks, because of the large retired military membership there. “He was a great guy. Good employee,” Parks said.
Brown is also having to place his home up for sale due to the loss of his job. To me this is an open and shut case, the new manager actually wrote the reason for firing him was because he was a “Disabled Veteran”. I guess he did not know that is discrimination and against the law. And on top of that the Veterans Lawyer is an Iraq war Vet also, so I am sure this band of brothers will burn them good!
Here is a picture of the manager Jonathan Moreno, that fired our Disabled Brother. He now works at Golds Gym in the same city.
Here is the Video from WIS News Investigation:
wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |
Here is the facebook page for the location that fired the Disabled Vet, let them know how you feel. Although the manager that fired him left a few weeks later. Seems he left the company in one hell of a bind! PLEASE BE CIVIL, NO THREATS, THE END GOAL IS TO GET THIS WOUNDED WARRIOR TAKEN CARE OF. New Life Fitness World Lexington, SC Location – PLEASE NOTE THIS IS THEIR OLD PAGE AND IS NO LONGER MONITORED.
I also believe Gold’s Gym needs to get rid of this guy before he does something stupid like this to them, and gets them wrapped up in a lawsuit. We tried to find Mr. Moreno, but of course he is nowhere to be found. If anyone luck’s up and finds his facebook etc, let us know by email.
We have an email in to Sgt. Brown, and will let you know as this story develops. Here is the link to the story on the News Stations Page. Lawsuit Claims Former Marine Fired For Being Disabled Veteran
New Life Fitness world of Lexington has responded to WIS News Investigative Report on their new facebook page. Here is their response:
Press Release/ Response to WIS-TV
New Life Fitness World is an enterprise whose owner proudly served alongside U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam. We have over 125 employees in Iowa and South Carolina, and we regularly and proudly employ and serve active duty military and verterans. Jonathan Brown was employed by New Life Fitness World. The reason for his termination is hotly contested, and management vigorously disputes the reason for termination given by Jonathan Brown in his lawsuit. Out of respect for employee confidentiality, and to avoid prejudicing the judicial process, management will have no further comment. – New Life Fitness World of SC Lexington
Due to the actions of the former Manager they made a new facebook page, and said it is under new management. You can view the above press release on the new page here New Life Fitness World Of Lexington
Thanks to Jody Barr the investigative reporter who broke this story for sending me a copy of the court documents. For those of you that were questioning the snapshot of the document. Here are copies of the original paperwork filed in the courthouse, the termination paperwork is also attached. and clearly signed by the manager.
The Executive Vice President/Owner of the Gold’s Gym Columbia would like to say something to everyone. This is the gym that Jonathan Moreno went to work for after he quit New Life Fitness World. We ask that you do not hold Gold’s Gym responsible as I sincerely believe they had no idea what was going on. And Mr. Burriss is the only one that has reached out to us. Thank you Mr. Buriss for taking the time to write to us and let us know you are aware and taking this seriously.
As Executive Vice President and Owner of the 5 Gold’s Gyms in Columbia, SC I certainly understand your concerns regarding the situation with our employee, Jonathan Moreno. Frankly, when we were first alerted to the issue, I was shocked. I and this company take veterans’ issues seriously. My grandfather, T. Moffatt Burriss, is a decorated World War II veteran who served in multiple European campaigns. He risked his life many times for our country and his heroism was depicted in the movie A Bridge Too Far. He continues to serve through lectures and is active in the Freedom Flight program.
I grew up respecting the sacrifices made by veterans. The main fountains in our Irmo and Forest Acres locations are dedicated to the veterans of our country with permanent bronze monuments.
We currently employee veterans in many positions, including management, sales and personal training. We have also partnered with the Army in their ACAP hiring program to hire veterans as well as the Employer Partnership Program to hire Guard and Reserve members from all branches.
We also have special membership programs for active duty personnel as well as special accommodations for those individuals.
So please rest assured that I am investigating the claims made against Mr. Moreno in an attempt to get all the facts to determine a course of action. In no case will any mistreatment of Military Personnel, active or retired, be tolerated at Gold’s Gym.
John Burriss, Jr.
Executive Vice President/Owner
Gold’s Gym Columbia
We just received the following statement from New Life Fitness World. Whatever the outcome, and whatever the truth we will post it here. We will stay neutral until all the facts are presented. I have spoken to a contact at NLFW, and they assure me they did not discriminate against this Marine. If this turns out to be true, then this Marine owes a lot of people an apology. But like I said we will reserve judgement until all the facts have been presented and are clear. That being said, here is the statement from New Life Fitness World.
“Ladies and gentlemen of facebook, veterans, disabled persons, and members:
The events surrounding the dismissal of a former employee and friend are being disputed in our legal system. We at New Life Fitness World vehemently deny the allegations of discrimination. The events surrounding the day in question are being vigorously investigated by our attorneys with the full cooperation of our local staff and corporate office. We are confident that when all the facts are presented and the truth can be seen for what it really is that we will be vindicated.
We have all seen the news report that broke the story. I can tell you that while naming this facility, the “investigative” work that went into the report did not at any time include contacting the gym for any comment. The efforts of this report have only resulted in the defamation of a company with over thirty-three years of discrimination free employment. A big part of our corporate culture is the effort we take to eliminate discrimination in any form.
Unfortunately this report has only served to fuel the fire of many individuals. The reporter at no point contacted the club to verify his “research”. His is a completely one sided story that many on this site and around the country have taken as the complete truth. The result has been a heightened sense of anger and rage at this company and those who work here. We have had employees who have nothing to do with the events in question who have received harassing phone calls and death threats, just for showing up to work.
The facts are this, there are at minimum two sides to every story. Only one has been reported. Due to the type of accusation and facts in question we must work through this with our attorneys as opposed to trying to solve this in the internet court of opinion. The documentation which seems so black and white has questions that must be answered at its very formation. The employee was offered a demotion to a sales position due to duties associated with his position not pertaining to sales numbers. As a general manager there are duties pertaining to facility management as well that were not met. There was an effort to retain the employee in a sales capacity with the promise to reinstate his management position if these other duties were improved on.
Again we would like to stress and point to our record of over thirty-three years as a discrimination free workplace. New Life Fitness World, its employees, and members all value and hold our veterans with the highest honors and regard. It is because of these men and women that we have the freedoms to not only conduct business but also to work through a legal process to prove our side of the issue as well. We thank you for your patience as we work through this issue to bring it to a full resolution.”