Brooklyn, NY – Gym Settles Discrimination Lawsuit, Allows Orthodox Women To Work Out In Skirts


    Wood-Isenberg with her family. (facebook)Brooklyn, NY – Skirt-wearing fitness buffs, rejoice:  a chain of all-women’s fitness centers has agreed to allow members to work out in clothing that accommodates their religious beliefs.

    A settlement reached at the end of August finally puts an end to a 2015 federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Yosefa Jalal Wood-Isenberg who was ousted from two separate Lucille Roberts gyms in Brooklyn because she insisted on working out in a fitted below the knee skirt for reasons of modesty.

    As previously reported on VIN News ( Wood-Isenberg sued Lucille Roberts for revoking her membership because of what it termed her “inappropriate attire,” although the gym’s handbook made no mention of skirts in its dress code.

    A July 2015 Facebook post by Wood-Isenberg documenting one of two incidents where she was told to leave the members-only gym because she refused to take off the skirt that she wore over her leggings drew comments from several other women who said  that they had been subjected to similar treatment when they tried to work out in skirts.

    Wood-Isenberg’s lawsuit was dismissed in May by a federal judge who said that her experiences did not fit the definition of religious discrimination, as reported by Courthouse News (

    Wood-Isenberg appealed that decision and Lucille Roberts agreed to a settlement that would reinstate her gym membership and allow any religiously observant member to exercise in a fitted skirt that extends just below the knee.  Lucille Roberts, which has female-only gyms in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, also agreed to pay Wood-Isenberg an undisclosed amount of money as part of the settlement.

    Wood-Isenberg has moved to the Philadelphia, according to the New York Post (, and said that she looks forward to getting back to formal fitness classes, instead of doing home exercise videos.

    “I’m excited to go back and work out there,” said Wood-Isenberg. “It’s not the same working out in your own home with all the distractions.”

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    1. The momzarim at the all women’s fitness center were stupid; now it appears that they got hit in the pocketbook for their stupidity. It reminds me of a case in the early 1980’s when Captain Simcha Goldman, an Air Force psychologist was ordered to remove his kippah, which he refused to do so. The case was at first decided in favor of Captain Goldman,but was reversed in a 4-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Congress in 1986 passed the “Yarmulke bill”,which permitted Orthodox Jews serving in the U.S. military to year kippahs.

    2. I was a member of Bally’s years ago. I wore attire that was annoying to some african American members. I came straight from work and wore heavy rubber soled shoes rather than the typical sneakers. I was removed from the club on Tilden near Flatbush avenue.
      I did not sue but did ultimately get both an apology and a personal safety guarantee should I have problems in that location again.

    3. Yeah, in our Y, the rule for the workout room is that you have to wear leggings or pants. They are afraid of getting the material caught in the machines and you could get hurt. So, a shorter skirt that is narrow is less likely to get caught in the gears. I had not known that rule and the first time I came into the room, a woman came quickly running to tell me it wasn’t safe.


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