Judge: Washington state gym does not have to pay fines for COVID-19 violations

An appellate judge has ruled that the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries did not show sufficient evidence to fine a gym owner for alleged violations of coronavirus regulations in Yakima.

One of Anytime Fitness’ owners, Bradshaw Development Inc. was fined more than $9,000 in July and $29,000 in August after the department said the gym exposed its employees to COVID-19, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Department officials claimed gym locations in Yakima, Selah and Union Gap operated in violation of the state’s reopening plan when the county was in Phase 1 of the plan and gyms were not allowed to reopen.

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Judge William R. Strange ruled in favor of the gym after it appealed the fines. Anytime Fitness attorney Scott Brumback said the ruling was a victory for owner Wes Bradshaw.

“They fined him nearly $40,000,” Brumback said. “They were trying to make an example of him, and he stood up to them.”

Department of Labor spokesperson Tim Church said the agency disagrees with the decision.

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The department has 20 days from when it was notified on Tuesday to request a written review from the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. The board would then have 180 days to make a decision if the board approves the review.

“Our authority is based on employee worker safety and health. That’s a key issue,” Church said. “We do not have authority if there aren’t employees involved. We believe there were employees involved.”