Former manager sues men-only club5th December, 2013 by Emma Williams
The former female general manager of a golf club that only allows men to be full members, who says she refused to put adult magazines in the men’s locker room, has launched a discrimination suit against the club.
Toni DeMay, 63, says Wheatley Hills Golf Club in New York sacked her after it also suggested that female employees wear ‘skimpy outfits’ one night a week, according to Daily News America.
She additionally alleges that a member once shouted “it’s about time the men took this club back” during a meeting with her, and was sacked at the end of 2010, having been told the club no longer needed a general manager. However, it then hired a new, male, one.
Wheatley Hills is a prestigious 100-year-old American golf club that has 250 full members who are all male. Lesser memberships are available to female relatives of those members, but women are prohibited from entering certain parts of the clubhouse, such as ‘the men’s grill, the card room, a section of the bar and certain staircases and doorways’, according to DeMay.
During a 28-year career at the club, DeMay rose up through the ranks to become the club’s general manager. However, she claims in 2007 she was pushed by a boss to place pornographic magazines in the men’s locker room, and it was suggested to her that female servers dress up in skimpy outfits on Wednesday nights, court papers say.
She said in a deposition that in 2010 she flagged the son of a member for ordering 16 beers in 45 minutes. The member responded that he was: “not going to take direction from that woman.”
That member, according to DeMay, later said in a meeting: “Wait a minute, who’s running this club? This is a men’s club, isn’t it? It’s about time the men took this club back!” He “then high-fived to people around the table,” the former manger testified.
A Nassau County supreme court judge has found the allegations, coupled with DeMay’s prior positive job reviews, strong enough to let the case proceed. Wheatley Hills Golf Club’s lawyer has so far declined to comment.
The judge’s decision comes on the same day that the world’s oldest golfing society, Royal Burgess in Scotland, which is also men-only, has said it will ballot its members this month on admitting female members.
The decision to hold a referendum on the matter was only passed by five votes – 69 to 64 – at a meeting.
Every member has been sent a notification asking to reply with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether ladies can join the society.
However, if the majority vote for the change all this will mean is that the issue will be voted on at the society’s next AGM – when it will require at least two-thirds support.
The men-only rule has been in place for 278 years.
According to The Scotsman, the society’s annual rates bill is £38,000 – and rates relief was lifted by the City of Edinburgh Council in 1998 due to its single-sex status.
The paper states that at least one member has said he will resign if women are permitted membership.