Five world-class bridge players today sued the American Contract Bridge League in Los Angeles Superior Court for $1 million for unconstitutionally segregating tournaments by sex.
The league, which could not be reached for immediate comment, sponsors 24 national championship events with 16 "open pairs" in which men and women can compete as partners, and eight events for men-only and women-only teams.
Jillian Blanchard and her husband and bridge partner, Robert Blanchard, claimed that they were improperly banned from playing in a men's pair event last November in San Diego. They said they needed the points to compete adequately to represent the United States in world championships. And three professional players who make a living as hired bridge partners--John Mohan, Kay Schulle and Drew Casen--claimed that their income has been diminished because they are prevented from working in all bridge pair events.
"There is no rational, legitimate or demonstrable relationship between gender and a person's ability to play bridge," said civil rights attorney John E. McDermott, who filed the suit seeking bans on sex-segregated tournaments.