Sex Discrimination and Private Clubs
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What Is Sexual Discrimination?
Sexual discrimination is the intentional or unintentional acts which have the effect of excluding one sex to the benefits or opportunities of the other sex.
How Can a Person Sue a Private Club for Sexual Discrimination?
Sexual discrimination lawsuits are generally brought under a federal or state anti-discrimination statute, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 or the Equal Pay Act. They can either be initiated in an administrative law setting, or directly in a judicial venue.
In order to be successful in a lawsuit against a private club for sexual discrimination, a person must prove:
- Sex or gender is a protected class or category in the applicable anti-discrimination statute
- A private club restricted their access solely on the basis of their sex or gender
- They suffered some form of damages
- The private club is not exempt from liability
Are There Any Defenses?
If a person sues a private club for sexual discrimination, there are multiple defenses available. Some of them include:
- Statute of limitations
- A rational basis for the discrimination
- The private status of the club and its First Amendment Rights to "freedom of association"
- The right to privacy
What Other Factors Will a Court Look At?
Sometimes it is not easy to anticipate if a lawsuit against a private club for sex discrimination will be successful because a court will look at a wide range of additional factors. Such factors can include:
- If the group took an official position or "expressive association" in favor of sex discrimination,
- When the private club took a position,
- If the private club's goals can be accomplished without discriminating based on sex,
- The forced inclusion of a new member would interrupt the private club's ability to advocate their private viewpoints, or
- If the private club seeks and/or receives money from non-members.
What Can a Person Who Sues a Private Club for Sexual Discrimination Recover?
Generally, a person who successfully sues a private club for sexual discrimination can recover some or all of the following:
- Compensatory damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering,
- Reasonable attorney's fees and costs associated with the lawsuit, and
- Punitive damages in some instances.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you think you have been discriminated against by a private club based on your sex or gender, or you are associated with a private club and are being sued for sexual harassment, it is highly recommended for you to find an attorney because of the severity of the issues. Only an attorney will be able to guide you through the process and help to defend your rights.
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Last Modified: 04-18-2014 12:51 PM PDT
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