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YOUNGSTOWN Civil rights officer asks club to end gender bias policies



Published: Sat, September 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tippecanoe Country Club has three weeks to respond to the recommendations.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A hearing officer for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has recommended that a country club in Canfield Township stop discriminating against women.

Tippecanoe Country Club should eliminate all policies that limit access to its golf course and other facilities, except for restrooms and locker rooms, on the basis of gender, said Todd Evans, a hearing officer for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Women's complaint: Evans' recommendation comes more than a year after he conducted a hearing in Youngstown on a complaint filed by several women who said they'd been subjected to gender discrimination.

The club has about three weeks to respond to the report, said ODRC spokeswoman Drema Brown. The full commission will then either adopt or overturn Evans' report, probably in November, Brown said.

Atty. Marshall Buck, who represents the club, could not be reached to comment.

Lawsuit dismissed: Several women sued the club in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in 1995, alleging they had been discriminated against. The suit was dismissed and five of the women then lodged the complaint with the civil rights commission.

They alleged that there were times when their husbands and sons were allowed to golf and they weren't. Women's times on the golf course and in one of the club's dining rooms were limited, they said. The dining room restrictions have since been lifted.

Evans' ruling also says the club should be ordered to provide equal access to golf outings and other club events, and to offer widows and wives of certain membership holders the chance to buy a share of stock.

If the recommendations are approved, the club has until April 2002 to prepare a new membership handbook that complies with Evans' order and distribute it to its members. A copy of the handbook is to be provided to the commission's special enforcement unit.

Membership rolls: Evans' report also would require the club to provide the commission with an annual list of members and the types of membership held, the names of prospective applicants for membership and the type of membership they sought, copies of all membership applications, a list of all rejected applicants and copies of all written complaints filed by members alleging gender discrimination.

Initially, the club contended that it was not subject to the civil rights commission's jurisdiction because it is a private facility rather than a place of public accommodation. The commission ruled, though, that the rules of public accommodation apply.

The rules prohibit discrimination based on race or gender.

bjackson@vindy.com




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