Gym Membership Cancelled for Taking Pictures of Maskless Members

(WSVN) - He wears a mask at the gym when he works out. Other members don’t, and so he took pictures to show the gym employees, but he’s the one who got kicked out. Plus, can your boss make you use your camera, so they can watch you work from home? All that and more in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Some people work out to look stronger.

Some people work out to live longer.

Stacey Schwartz, wears a mask: “I do like to work out. My father died of heart disease. I am trying to prevent that from happening to me.”

Stacey has had a gym membership for 30 years but never during a pandemic.

Stacey Schwartz: “I always wear a mask.”

Stacey won’t work out without a mask, and even though Miami-Dade County requires it, some gym members ignore the order to wear masks.

Stacey Schwartz: “Several weeks ago, I went as far as to take pictures of members who were not wearing masks simply for the purpose of bringing it to the front desk.”

Stacey knows the masks are inconvenient, but he also believes they are necessary.

Stacey Schwartz: “It’s important to wear a mask in a gym because you are expelling all the air from your lungs, which could be full of the virus.”

When some members still ignored the staff’s request to wear a mask, Stacey got more frustrated.

Stacey Schwartz: “On three occasions, I called the Miami Police Department because as a resident of Miami, we were told if you see COVID violations, that’s what you are supposed to do.”

A few days later, Stacey then heard from the gym’s manager.

Stacey Schwartz: “They said because I had violated the rule about no photography in the gym, they were cancelling my membership.”

Persona non grata for taking a picture of maskless members, but Stacey doesn’t believe that’s why he got tossed out.

Stacey Schwartz: “No, I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason is that I brought it to their attention that they are not being responsible at enforcing the rules.”

Stacey smiles behind his mask at the irony.

The people who break the rules are still members while the fellow who followed the rules was tossed out.

Stacey Schwartz: “The whistleblower and I have always worn the mask.”

Well, Howard, is Stacey a whistleblower or someone who violated their policy by taking pictures of maskless gym customers?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Legally, Stacey is not a whisteblower because he’s not an employee, but even though the contract forbids photos, in this case, because they were taken to get management to follow the law, it would be unfair to terminate his contract. In fact, the gym may be in violation for not strictly enforcing the mandatory mask rule.”

Now, there are people who say they can’t wear a mask in a gym or in a grocery story because of health or psychological reasons. Do they have to wear it?

Howard Finkelstein: “The laws do have exemptions. If you have a condition that stops you from wearing a mask and have a doctor’s note, you can go without it, but at the same time, in most cases, a business doesn’t have to allow you to enter without that mask, either.”

Another subject: a lot of people are working from home.

Now, we are hearing their boss wants them to have a camera on, so the employer can watch them work. Legal or illegal?

Howard Finkelstein: “It’s legal. If they are paying you, they can watch you while you work.”

Stacey Schwartz: “I want them to reinstate my membership.”

LA Fitness didn’t return our phone calls or email, but Stacey says they contacted him and reinstated his membership, so he can start working out where he hopes everyone wears a mask like he does.

Stacey Schwartz: “Maybe it’s a little bit of an annoyance, but I think being hooked up to a ventilator would be a lot more annoying.”

Get used to the masks ’cause COVID is not going away.

Remember if you get caught not wearing a mask you can get fined.

A problem got you weighted down? Feel like you are stuck on a treadmill trying to solve it? Let us do the heavy lifting.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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