Lawsuit brings on civil rights changes
An appeal is still pending before the 7th District Courtof Appeals.
YOUNGSTOWN -- For now, Tippecanoe County Club in Canfield Township must comply with an Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruling to eliminate all discriminatory policies based on sex.
The private club's attorneys, Marshall Buck and Bobbie L. Flynt, had filed a motion asking for a stay of execution of a judgment made by Judge Maureen A. Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court back in July 2004.
The judge overruled the motion April 12, so Buck said Thursday, "We must now comply with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission order pending the decision of the 7th District Court of Appeals."
The Ohio Attorney General's office sent Buck a notice Thursday saying the club must abide by the cease-and-desist order ruled upon by the OCRC and upheld by Judge Cronin.
Among the OCRC's rulings is for the club to provide all members the same access to golf outings and other events regardless of sex, and for the club to eliminate all practices and policies that limit access to the golf course and other facilities.
The commission previously had held that the club discriminated against women and should change its policies to eliminate the bias.
Fight against discrimination
The finding came about because four women filed lawsuits back in 1994, saying their access to the golf course and other club facilities was restricted while there were no such limits on men.
One of those four women was Tillie Pipoly of Poland, who died 18 months ago. Her daughter, Dr. Linda Pipoly Book, hailed the decision as a victory for her mother's stand against discrimination.
Book, of Salt Lake City, was in town visiting with her father, Steve.
"I'm thrilled to be her daughter and have this be a part of her legacy to stand up for what's right and fight discrimination," Book said. "The victory is symbolic. There should not be discrimination based on gender, sex, race, religious or ethnic background, and all people should have equal opportunity. This is a small piece of history."
Not over yet
Buck, however, pointed out the case is not over, and the club might still prevail.
The appellate court still has not ruled on the merits of the case, and the club is seeking to reverse Judge Cronin and the OCRC.
"I believe we have resolved all the issues with the women's use of the club," Buck said.
"The OCRC wants to have this case set a precedence, to tell you what you can do," he said, adding that the club also has black and Hispanic members and is not discriminating against anyone.
He said the case has always boiled down to what a private club can and cannot do.
"If you invite people into your private home for a Tupperware party, does that make your home a public accommodation?" he said.
He added many of the changes the OCRC wants the club to do immediately already have been made.
Irene Foreman and her husband have been club members for 17 years. She said women now have a lot more privileges at the club than they ever had.
"We have a nine-hole league and 18-hole league on Tuesday. More and more women are joining, and they are single or divorced. That wasn't allowed before," Foreman said.
She said she thinks the changes at the club would have happened anyway because of the change in society on such issues. Foreman added, however, the lawsuit probably helped bring those changes along a little faster.