An internationally-renowned personal trainer sued the luxury health club where he worked for age discrimination – because they refused to play music that was recorded more than 18 months ago.
Fitzroy Gaynes, 64, started working part-time as a personal trainer at London health club chain Third Space in April 2001 having enjoyed a ‘long and successful’ career with an ‘international reputation’ in fitness, an employment tribunal heard.
His employers were described as a ‘cutting edge’ and ‘modern’ organisation for whom image and presentation had become an ‘increasing priority’.
The central London hearing was told this was emphasised by its Music Brand Standards Policy which stipulated that any music played in the club must have been produced and released in the last 18 months.
There was no bar on playing ‘old’ music, as long as it was a recent recording or a recent remix, the hearing was told.
Mr Gaynes, who said he does not listen to Radio One or go clubbing, complained that the gym’s policy put him at a disadvantage, claiming that he was being discriminated against by his employers’ refusal to play older music.
But his claim was thrown out by an employment tribunal on December 20 last year after the club – where membership costs more than £200 a month – argued that tracks recorded ‘years ago’ just don’t sound as good when played through their sound systems.
Fitzroy Gaynes, 64, started working part-time as personal trainer at London health club chain Third Space in April 2001 and has developed an ‘international reputation in his field’, an employment tribunal heard
Mr Gaynes, who said he does not listen to Radio One or go clubbing, complained that the gym’s policy put him at a disadvantage, claiming that he and was being discriminated against by his employers’ refusal to play older music
Antony Stewart, Head of Group Exercise, who has a background in the music industry, told the tribunal that modern music simply sounded better than tracks recorded in the past.
‘Music production has advanced significantly and with time this has meant that songs that were produced years ago do not sound as good when played on new sound systems in comparison to new music which has been produced and designed to be played with the current technology,’ he said.
‘This is one of the reasons why we request that songs that are used are no older than 18 months old, to ensure that members of our clubs have the best listening experience which will feed into their overall experience.’
The tribunal heard that in 2019 bosses at the Soho club where he worked launched an investigation into Mr Gaynes for his failure to adhere to uniform and timekeeping policies.
The tribunal heard he often ate food in the studios and left rubbish there after classes.
In October 2019 he raised a grievance alleging bullying, harassment and age, race and sex discrimination. He said that he felt he was being ‘targeted’. This was dismissed.
Fitzroy Gaynes started working part-time as personal trainer at London health club chain Third Space in April 2001 (pictured: The Soho Third Space club)
Mr Gaynes’ claim was thrown out by an employment tribunal on December 20 last year after the club – where membership costs more than £200 a month – argued that tracks recorded ‘years ago’ just don’t sound as good when played through their sound systems
He raised a second grievance in September 2020, alleging his colleagues and bosses were conspiring to cause him to be disciplined and to damage his reputation. Their behaviour was described as ‘racist and ageist’.
This was also dismissed and in October 2020 Mr Gaynes transferred away from the club in Soho to one in Islington, north London.
He took Third Space – which runs a number of London health clubs – to the employment tribunal claiming age and race discrimination. However, his case was dismissed.
Ruling that the music policy was not ageist, Employment Judge Anthony Snelson said: ‘We have no information as to the amount and range of music newly recorded or released as a re-mix in any rolling 18-month period.
‘We also have no information (statistical or otherwise) concerning the musical preferences of persons sharing [Mr Gaynes’] personal characteristics of race and age. And we have precious little information as to [his] own musical tastes.
‘He tells us only that he does not go clubbing, does not listen to Capital Radio or Radio One and leans towards music ‘affected by’ his ‘race, preference and exposure’.
‘In the circumstances, we find it impossible to make an assessment as to whether those who share [Mr Gaynes’] personal characteristics are put at a particular disadvantage by the policy or whether he is put at such a disadvantage.
‘It is for [Mr Gaynes] to establish the discriminatory effect of the [policy]. He fails to do so.
‘The policy constituted a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. We are satisfied that [Third Space] had the aim of providing in their clubs the latest and best music production technology in order to enhance the experience of their members.
‘It is sad that [Mr Gaynes], at a late stage in his illustrious career, should find himself expending great emotional energy on recriminations and bitterness.’