A 30 year-old autistic man in the UK has taken on a giant fitness chain in a discrimination suit, teaching himself law, and coming away victorious in a classic case of good karma.
The incident occurred during a regular run-of-the-mil spin class, in which Aggarwal asked the instructor to turn down the music. Denying the request, the instructor then went on to call Aggarwal stupid twice over the loudspeaker, with the apparent intention of embarrassing the fitness addict.
“He started shouting across the room and told me my opinion was b******* in the middle of a class," he said. “I stayed quiet but it made me feel horrible. He singled me out even though I only agreed with someone else. I believe this is because of my autism.”
According to court documents, the harassment continued following the class. "The claimant [Aggarwal] asked the instructor to stop and was called 'stupid' down the microphone in front of approximately 30 people twice',” say legal documents from the case.
"Claimant believes this is disability related harassment as [the instructor] was aware of the previous incident [where Ketan told gym staff he had autism]."
When a formal complaint to the gym proved fruitless, Aggarwal took matters into his own hands, escalating the incidence to a disability discrimination lawsuit. Representing himself, Ketan spent two years at his local library, reading from law books eventually taking the gym to court. "It wasn't about the money, it was about the principle," he said.
"If I was that stupid I wouldn't have been able to successfully pursue the claim. It was two years coming and it was hard work. I'm not a legal professional and I had to do a huge amount of paperwork. I had to live in the library, picking up law from the books, and getting templates for submitting paperwork from the internet. It was worth it though.”
It was reported that once the gym received news of the lawsuit, they took action and dismissed the instructor, before offering Aggarwal $172 (£94). Not satisfied with this resolution, Aggarwal went on to win the suit, receiving $2206 (£1200) in compensation and minimal legal costs.
In a statement issued by his gym following the case, they took full ownership of the mistake. “We believe in offering a welcoming, inclusive and friendly environment for our members. We are very sorry that on this occasion we failed to do that, and are committed to reviewing our ongoing training to ensure the experience for all members is of the highest quality.”