Metro YMCA investigating after KC mom says lifeguard discriminated against her family

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City mom is frustrated over how she and her son were treated at the North Kansas City YMCA.

Cierra Nicole claims her family was discriminated against Sunday while visiting the kid's pool at the recreational center, located on Iron Street.

"The YMCA is a diverse place where you should feel comfortable and I didn't feel comfortable that day at all," Nicole said.

Nicole said when she and her 2-year-old son entered the pool area, the kid's section was roped off. She was told it would open when a lifeguard arrived. Nicole said she doesn't know why, but the lifeguard who arrived didn't open the kid's pool until another family, who happened to be white, showed up.

"I noticed she approached them, and I guess they wanted the pool open, and she opened it," Nicole said. "She took down the ropes, turned on the sprinklers and did everything for them."

The 28-year-old mom of two said when her son started playing in the area, the lifeguard got annoyed.

"To me, she was a little frustrated," Nicole said. "She told my son he had to get out the way for the other children, and I said, 'He's only two. He doesn't understand that.'"

Nicole said after about three minutes the other family left the pool, and the lifeguard closed the area -- even though she and her son were still playing.

"I was just puzzled as to why she just opened it for that short time for that family to have fun," Nicole said. "I said, 'So you only opened the pool for them?' and she said, 'It's not like that.'"

Nicole, who is a YMCA member, said her family wasn't causing any problems.

"She was nasty about it. She was not friendly about it at all," Nicole said.

She said she complained to the supervisor on duty who told her she was not the first person to complain about the lifeguard.

"For them to tell me that they've had complaints about her in the past, I don't understand why she's still there," Nicole said. "I don't like anyone to lose their job, but if you're going to be that nasty towards people, you shouldn't be there."

Paula Spreitzer Oxler, the associate vice president of communications and public relations for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, confirmed the organization is investigating the incident.

"Please know we take member concerns and complaints seriously," Oxler wrote in an email to FOX4. "The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is a charitable, nonprofit organization with an inclusive mission. We strive to ensure access, inclusion and engagement for all in a welcoming and safe environment."

Nicole added that she has been in contact with the YMCA, including their diversity and inclusion officer. She said that staff members have been apologetic, but she said she's skeptical about returning to the North Kansas City location.

"I was hurt because I've never experienced anything like that," Nicole said. "I felt as if I was a nobody to her. If anything, she needs training -- proper training -- or she doesn't need to work there at all."