Steve Nash sympathizes with workers terminated from namesake fitness club

Click to play video: 'Terminated staff at Steve Nash gym issue class action lawsuit' Terminated staff at Steve Nash gym issue class action lawsuit
After the sudden mass terminations of all its staff, Steve Nash Fitness World is now facing another legal challenge, a class action lawsuit on behalf of some 1,200 former employees. – Apr 9, 2020

B.C. basketball great Steve Nash is sharing his sympathies for the workers terminated from the fitness clubs that bear his name amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Lawyers for the Victoria-raised athlete sent a statement on behalf of their client Saturday in response to multiple Global News reports that roughly 1,200 employees for Steve Nash Fitness World have been terminated as the company shutters its B.C. gyms because of the pandemic.

Those employees have now filed a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging breach of contract against the company, which has recently signaled it intends to file for insolvency, according to documents obtained by Global News.

READ MORE: Terminated employees file class action against Steve Nash Fitness World

In the statement, Nash’s lawyers say their client — who walked away from his partnership with the company in 2014 and has tried to get his name removed — has had no involvement in any management decisions, including the recent termination of staff or the insolvency filing.

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“Steve’s sympathies are with the employees who have been let go as a result of this public health crisis,” the statement reads.

“Mr. Nash also sympathizes with everyone affected both physically and mentally by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Steve Nash Fitness World terminates B.C. staff' Coronavirus: Steve Nash Fitness World terminates B.C. staff
Coronavirus: Steve Nash Fitness World terminates B.C. staff – Mar 28, 2020

The statement appears to contradict an announcement from Kirk Media Group in October 2019 that Nash would “re-engage” with Steve Nash Fitness World and have board representation within the company, appearing to bring the years-long legal dispute to an end.

The announcement included a quote attributed to Nash saying he was “really excited to be back in the business of providing Canadians with a premier gym experience.”

Nash’s lawyers told Global News that the new partnership was meant to be through Nash’s charity, the Steve Nash Foundation. Yet the relationship between Nash and the fitness company was fully terminated before that could happen.

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READ MORE: Terminated staff fear Steve Nash Fitness World heading for bankruptcy amid COVID-19 crisis

Steve Nash Fitness World has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Global News on former employee’s allegations included in the proposed class-action lawsuit, which have not been proven in court.

The suit seeks damages including individual termination pay of up to eight weeks’ of wages, and group termination payment of up to 16 weeks’ worth of wages.

Internal letters and emails to employees obtained by Global News show the company initially promised staff would be paid through the end of March, before informing them they would not be fully compensated as initially stated. Requests for comment on those communications were not returned by the company.

READ MORE: Steve Nash Fitness World terminates all employees, citing coronavirus crisis

The company has also not responded to allegations from those same employees that plans to file for insolvency had been in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A title search of the company’s other brand, Crunch Fitness in Surrey, shows seven liens against the property all filed within the last two weeks.

Last year a $20-million class-action lawsuit was filed by employees alleging they were not being paid properly, along with further allegations of labour violations, bullying and harassment. None of those allegations have been proven in court.

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—With files from Neetu Garcha

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