A Missouri man says he was treated unfairly at his gym because he wore a shirt supporting Donald Trump, KMOV-TV (St. Louis) is reporting.
Staff Sergeant Jake Talbot says that he’s worn his “Trump 2016” T-shirt more times than he can count to CDY Fitness in Troy, Missouri, in suburban St. Louis. However, at his most recent visit, he says he was told by the owner, “Liz,” that the shirt was racist and he’d have to take it off.
“I was just puzzled there for a second. She said that it was racist and represents racism and that’s when I when I was like ‘oh, you’re done.'”
He also denies that the shirt represents racism.
“The owner Liz came up to me and said that Trump shirt I had on was offensive and said I needed to remove it in order to work out there, and that it is linked to racism. I hate the word, its used way too loosely. It’s 2019, get the hell over it, it’s not racism.”
Liz, for her part, declined to be interviewed on-camera, but told KMOV that the shirt made “several others uncomfortable,” adding that she didn’t believe her gym should be a “political forum.”
TROY, Mo. (CBS Local) — A Missouri man says he was told his shirt supporting President Donald Trump made people “uncomfortable” and was asked not to wear it to the gym anymore.— cwphilly (@cwphilly) January 24, 2019
Jake Talbot says he had worn the shirt that read “2016 Trump for President”... https://t.co/rNH8zFgUMd
She later released a statement saying that the event has caused a lot of “hate” at her business, but that she stands by her belief that the gym should not be a political forum.
As for Talbot, he says that another, nearby gym has offered him a free membership.
This is not the first time that a Trump-related T-shirt has caused issues for a customer at a business.
As the Houston Chronicle reported in August 2018, Houston woman Ximena Duarte wore a shirt with the message “Donald Trump Is Human Garbage” to the VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa in Cypress, in suburban Houston. Like Talbot, Duarte says that she had worn the shirt several times to the gym before it got noticed.
However, on that particular day, she says that she was in the middle of her workout when a gym employee asked her to leave, even to the point of threatening to have security escort her out of the building, because the shirt was making other customers “uncomfortable.”
“I decided to leave. I was so mad that I was going to start crying.”
In a statement from the gym’s corporate headquarters, the company’s management stood by its decision to ask Duarte to leave.
St. Louis attorney Lynette Petruska said that, in general, business owners have the right to dictate what clothing customers are allowed to wear in the building.
“The business owner really didn’t violate any First Amendment or anti-discrimination law.”