The parent company of the popular Planet Fitness gym chain Monday fired a Maine man who worked as its payroll manager, accusing him of stealing “highly sensitive personal and financial information” about its employees.

Planet Fitness, based in Newington, New Hampshire, made the accusations public in a lawsuit filed against the fired employee, Jason Cole of Lebanon, in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeking to stop him from doing anything malicious with the information.

“Given that Cole has a history of threatening and unstable behavior, there is an exceptionally high risk that Cole will do something drastic with this information after he learns of his termination from Planet Fitness on August 10, 2015,” the company’s owner, Pla-Fit Franchise LLC, said in the lawsuit filed on its behalf by its attorneys.

The timing of the lawsuit comes just days after Planet Fitness went public, with an initial public stock offering Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PLNT. The company employs 172 people at its New Hampshire headquarters, where Cole worked, and 715 others across its 56 fitness clubs nationwide.

The lawsuit accuses Cole of threatening to use insider company information that he received inadvertently to interfere with the company’s IPO and charges him with three counts – breach of contract, converting the company’s personal and financial payroll information for his personal use, and of computer fraud.

Lawyers for the company appeared before Judge Jon Levy in federal court in Portland on Monday afternoon for a hearing on the lawsuit, seeking a temporary restraining order against Cole. The judge took the case under consideration and made no immediate ruling.

A lawyer for Planet Fitness, Mark Batten of the Boston law firm Proskauer Rose, said he did not believe Cole has yet been served with the lawsuit and said he needed to check with the company before commenting on the case.

Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Cole of receiving an email by mistake on June 3 that was supposed to be sent to a company attorney who has the same name as Jason Cole.

Rather than delete the email as he had been instructed by the company’s human resources director, Cole downloaded it to his home computer and kept a copy, the lawsuit says.

“Cole stated that the June 3 e-mail was ‘damning’ from a business and political perspective and threatened to release it publicly right before Planet Fitness went public, in an attempt to disrupt the IPO,” the lawsuit says.

The company also alleges it received complaints from gym members who expressed concern that Cole had access to their personal information.

“Cole’s conduct suggests that he has likely stolen other highly sensitive personal and financial information about Planet Fitness employees, to which he has access in his role as payroll manager,” the lawsuit says.

Cole could not be reached for comment. A listed number in his name has been disconnected.


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