A transgender woman has filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Manhattan yoga studio for gender-identity discrimination after being forced to use the men’s locker room. This marks the third lawsuit of its kind filed by Ali Miles, also known as Dylan Miles, in the city within the past 13 months, potentially signaling a wave of trans-rights lawsuits targeting small businesses.
According to court documents, Miles claims to be in the process of transitioning, wearing women’s clothing, and undergoing hormone therapies. On May 4, Miles arrived at Hot Yoga Chelsea on West 27th Street for a 5 p.m. class but was denied access to the women’s locker room and bathrooms by the management. Despite the denial, Miles entered the facilities, causing an outcry from other female patrons present during the incident, according to the DailyMail.
Witnesses allege that Miles’ behavior inside the locker room that day was disturbing and inappropriate. One witness stated that other transgender individuals had used the facilities without any issues in the past but found Miles’ actions disruptive. The witness described Miles as entering the female locker room wearing male shorts and not covering his bust with a feminine top. Additionally, Miles reportedly exposed himself and engaged in uncomfortable behavior, causing distress to other women present.
Peter Sverd, Miles’ attorney, has also represented Miles in previous cases against Planet Fitness in the Bronx, where Miles was escorted out of the women’s locker room, and a homeless shelter in the Bronx, where Miles allegedly faced assault by a security guard.
Under a 2016 city law, places of public accommodation are required to allow visitors to use facilities that align with their gender identity or provide gender-neutral options. To avoid potential bathroom-related issues, many businesses in Manhattan, particularly in the Big Apple, have proactively implemented neutral bathrooms, according to Anthony Mignano, a real estate property manager.
Experts warn that transgender bathroom and locker room claims could subject city businesses to litigation similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases. The ADA has led to numerous lawsuits, with some filed by individuals known as “professional plaintiffs” who pressure small businesses into settling for cash.
Lawyer Ron Coleman, who is not involved in the Miles case, suggests that while the ADA gained societal consensus and support, the same may not exist for transgender individuals. Thus, he predicts a rise in trans discrimination claims that follow the ADA model.
Hot Yoga Chelsea has not responded to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.