Golf Club Sued For Ladies Day Promotion

By: Rob Harris

Eagle Vines Vineyards & Golf Club, located in California’s Napa Valley and designed by Johnny Miller, looks like a beautiful spot to play golf.

The public course is even more enticing for women on Ladies Day, as it provides slightly discounted rates. So alleges a lawsuit recently filed by Steve Frye. Mr. Frye believes this practice is unlawful, as he claims to be the victim of sex discrimination.

Mr. Frye’s attorney, Alfred Rava, explained the lawsuit as follows:  “Eagle Vines discriminated against plaintiff, as well as other male golfers, on Ladies Day by charging plaintiff and other male golfers a higher price than it charged female patrons to play golf — no matter how experienced or skilled female golfers were in comparison to male golfers.”

Rava appears to have developed a practice specialty at asserting similar discrimination claims on behalf of men. He sued the Oakland A’s for excluding men from a floppy hat giveaway on Mother’s Day. He sued the San Diego Repertory Theatre for providing discounted tickets to women on certain nights, and he has sued various California restaurants and clubs for their Ladies Nights promotions.

I am the father of three daughters who would welcome any encouragement to get them on a golf course. Is anyone other than Mr. Frye and his attorney troubled by Eagle Vines’ promotion? Does the law really have to go here?

 

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  1. Observer’s avatar

    This has already been decided by the courts and various administrative agencies in California. As a society we have decided that continuing to send the message that it’s okay to treat men and women differently is actually not okay. “Ladies Day” is illegal; the discussion is closed. See the following brochure from the California DFEH:

    http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/Publications/UnruhActBrochure.pdf

    1. Rudy Anderson’s avatar

      I think we have lost our minds. What about senior discounts (AGE)? Military, etc. This is a remarkable intrusion of government into a free society. California has taken this to a new art form.

  2. Etienne’s avatar

    I want my daughters to golf too. But I can encourage them to golf without teaching them that sex discrimination is ok. To oppose one form of sex discrimination while supporting another is hypocrisy. And I’m not about to teach my daughters, or my sons, hypocisy. I support this guy. I think sex discrimination sends a terrible message.

  3. Harry Crouch’s avatar

    Not only is this sort of discrimination illegal in California it’s not necessary. In case you have not heard, women have been playing golf for the better part of a century, they even have their own professional golf association and tournaments, and companies manufacture accessories and golf clubs specifically for female golfers. Perhaps that’s news to some of you golfers, especially those who operate golf courses and tournaments. Now that you know these things you too can exit the dark age and let enlightenment shine.

  4. Rob Harris’s avatar

    I want to thank everyone for their comments. My concern is not so much that the law substantively prohibits discriminatory treatment, which it clearly does, but whether the commencement of a lawsuit was necessary and appropriate to address the concern. Why wouldn’t Eagle Vines, if presented with a sincere and reasonable request to eliminate Ladies Day favoritism, respond to that request (especially after consulting counsel)? Were they recalcitrant here, or did plaintiff and counsel insist on more, i.e. $$$? If the former, then Eagle Vines deserves the litigation mess in which it finds itself. If the latter–and Eagle Vines simply was unaware–are societal interests well-served by the game of gotcha? Sure, the publicity surrounding the lawsuit arguably helps educate the world that such discrimination is wrong, but there are other ways to have a meaningful teaching moment.

    1. Jiggy Hanz’s avatar

      It’s 2011 and you’re wondering if a sophisticated California business like the Eagle Vines Country Club doesn’t know that charging female patrons more than male patrons, or charging male patrons more than female patrons, for the exact same goods or services on the same day is illegal?

      If so, then the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing needs to investigate this country club and see if it pays its similarly situated male and female employees equally.

      Do you think this country club would ever sell salads to men in its restaurant for less than it charges female diners because men don’t eat salads as often as women do?

      And do female golfers have to wear a niqab when they play here?

  5. Golfer72’s avatar

    I can easily see how everyone is screaming “discrimination”, but I truly do not believe the golf course (Not country club) were trying to discriminate against anyone on purpose.

    It seems that they were just trying to promote the game to women, not trying to discriminate against anyone in particular. Why would they when then objective of any business is too maximize profits? No one was being targeted here…..

    The truly sad part is that no one is realizing that Steve Frye waited a full year to file the complaint, just so he can max out the $$ in the lawsuit. He did not have the decency to go into the golf shop at the time to say anything, which makes his intentions obivious. It’s plainly obvious that the true reason for filing this lawsuit was for nothing other than MONEY!!!!
    According to the article & others about him, that’s how he makes his living!

    Wouldn’t senior & military discounts fall into the same catagory? So we are saying no more discount at Denny’s for all those mom’s & pop’s who are on fixed incomes or for any military personal? That would also be considered discimination, correct?

    1. Jiggy Hanz’s avatar

      Having researched this law, golf, and this case, while it is clear the golf course was indeed trying to promote golf to women, it turns out that women have been playing golf since at least the mid-1930s when famous female athlete Babe Didrikson played in the 1938 Los Angeles Open, a PGA event, and several female golfers have since played in PGA events, e.g., Annika Sörenstam, Suzy Whaley, and Michelle Wie, while no men, not even duffers, have ever been allowed to play in an LPGA event.

      Also, I’ve learned that Steve Frye didn’t know women were playing less than men until after he played that day. And his hands are tied regarding the remedy he is seeking, because these remedies are all fixed by the statute. Discrimination victims in these types of cases can’t select their remedies, they are all fixed by the California Legislature in Civil Code section 52, and this same Legislature increased the mandatory statutory damages from $1,000 to $4,000 per offense in 2002 specificallybecause of the proliferation of Ladies’ Day and Ladies’ Night promotions across the State, despite the then-$1,000 statutory damages penalty. Interestingly, the first remedy listed in his complaint is for an injunction ordering the course to stop charging golfers different green fees based solely on their sex – not for money.

      Lastly, according to this law, it also prohibits Eagle Vines from charging white golfers more than black golfers like millionaires Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, or Barack Obama if Eagle Vines were to employ an African-American Day to merely try to promote the game to black golfers.

      1. Jiggy Hanz’s avatar

        That should read “. . . didn’t know women were paying less than men . . ..”

  6. Rob Harris’s avatar

    Attorney Peter Mankin, of San Francisco’s Sheldon & Mankin, invited me to share the following comment:

    “While as an attorney I have a respect for the law, and consider myself relatively ‘liberal,’ I think these kinds of absurd suits give a bad name to lawyers and the law. I don’t know Mr. Rava or his motivations, but surely there must be a better way to either make money or push one’s causes.

    “One of the assistant pros at my club (Contra Costa CC) just took over the Head Pro job at Eagle Vines earlier this year. I hear he is doing great things to improve the club and I am sorry he has to deal with the likes of Mr. Frye and Mr. Rava.”

  7. Patricia Hannigan’s avatar

    While it may not be the case at Eagle Vines many courses are small family run businesses struggling in the current economy. I’d hate to think of those kind’s of businesses being brought down by similar law suits when clearly there was no malicious intent. This type of suit has been dismissed in other states. Ultimately I feel such suits are more apt to erode public respect for the Equal Rights Amendment and deter rather than promote the serious goals for which it was adopted

  8. Jiggy Hanz’s avatar

    It’s interesting how some women want equal treatment for women, but not for men. Or, who believe it’s okay for a Mom-and-Pop shop to charge their good Christian customers – especially those from their fundamental Christian church – less than their non-Christian customers, since they run a family business and there’s no malicious intent.

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