A group of 28 single women filed a sex discrimination lawsuit Friday against Newport Beach Country Club, saying they were each charged thousands of dollars more for club membership than single men.
Jackie Neal, 64, and Lynn Bennett, 60, both of Newport Beach, are among the women who say they were told in a letter April 8, 1986, that they could become charter members if they paid an additional $3,000 or founding members for an extra $12,000.The letter by W.D. Ray, chairman of the club's board of directors, advised them that the conversion to more valued memberships is being offered to women for the first time, said lawyer Gloria Allred, who filed the lawsuit in Santa Ana Superior Court.
However, single men had been offered the same opportunity to convert to charter membership with no additional charge, and to convert to founding membership for $3,500, Allred said.
Single ladies must pay guest fees, while those fees frequently are waived for single men, and single men get free refreshments in their locker room, while women have to pay for them, Allred said.
Jackie Morrissey, clubhouse manager, said the club would not comment on the suit until its officers had seen it.
The lawsuit says the club's practices violate the state's civil rights act. It seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting the club from charging inequitable fees and providing services on the basis of sex. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.
"The economic discrimination suffered by these single women at Newport Beach Country Club is particularly offensive because single women as a group earn less than single men in this country," Allred said. "Therefore, they are doubly victimized if they not only earn less because of their sex, but in addition, are forced to pay more on account of their sex."