Jesse Lee Peterson, an exclusive WND columnist, popular conservative commentator, radio talk show host, pastor and founder of BOND, a national nonprofit focused on building up men and race relations, has filed a lawsuit against a Los Angeles health club for discriminating against him on account of his race and his political views.
The complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court charges managers and officers of the club, Equinox, “intentionally discriminated against Rev. Peterson by terminating his membership on the basis of his race and political affiliation.”
The dispute arose Aug. 11, 2017, when an Equinox employee overhead Peterson expressing support for President Trump while he was one the phone at the club doing a radio interview.
Peterson often responds to requests for radio interviews on a moment’s notice, and the club to which he had belonged for years regularly let him use an empty room.
However, when a worker overheard Peterson expressing support for Trump, he demanded he end the radio interview.
He then went to fetch a manager named Scott.
The complaint alleges the manager, referenced as “DOE 1,” who “is significantly larger and younger than Rev. Peterson, aggressively entered the empty office, charged at and collided with Rev. Peterson, and pointed his finger in his face, yelling ‘GET OUT.'”
“The commotion caused the radio show to immediately end the on-air phone interview. Rev. Peterson asked to speak to a manager. DOE 1 informed Rev. Peterson that he was the manager and that Equinox was terminating Rev. Peterson’s membership, effective immediately.”
The lawsuit alleges the club worker “yelled ‘YOU SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP’ and commented that black Americans cannot support President Trump or the Republican Party.”
The employee “continued to complain that President Trump is a racist, that Rev. Peterson is a racist because he supports President Trump, that it is unacceptable for ‘your kind’ to support President Trump, and that President Trump’s supporters were not welcome at Equinox.”
“Rev. Peterson asked DOE 1 what he meant by ‘your kind,’ and DOE 1 responded, ‘blacks.'”
The club canceled Peterson’s paid membership, and it has not been reinstated.
Contacted by WND, the club declined to comment.
Peterson’s attorney, Anthony Kohrs, said that by terminating Peterson’s membership and “failing to discipline its employees, Equinox supports the belief that Peterson’s skin color requires allegiance to a certain political party.”
“If he chooses to think for himself, he must be punished.”
The action seeks damages under several California hate-crime statutes that prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of race and political views.
Kohrs alleges the company prevented Peterson “from exercising his rights to full and equal accommodation at Equinox, to free speech without fear or threat of violence, and to hold and express conservative political views as a black man without fear or threat of violence.”
Peterson’s BOND is the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, a national group that works toward “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.”
He’s also an author.
Cited in the complaint, which demands a jury trial, is the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Ralph Civil Rights Act, the Bane Civil Rights Act and the state’s law on unfair business practices.
It seeks compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, exemplary damages and civil penalties. The lawsuit points out that California law allows for treble damages as well as punitive damages.
It also seeks an order that the company not engage in “any of the unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices alleged in the complaint.”
The complaint charges that “a substantial motivating reason for Equinox’s intentional discrimination was Rev. Peterson’s race and Equinox’s perception of his political affiliation.”
WND reported a year ago that Peterson, a frequent Fox News contributor, explained to WND that the Equinox employee went on an “insane” rant, “screaming and yelling at me.”
At that time, Peterson tried unsuccessfully to resolve the dispute with a letter to Equinox.
Peterson leaves no doubt about his views on current issues and events, with recent column headlines such as “Arrest Florida election supervisor for voter fraud!” and “Oprah stumps for evil while Trump stands for good.”