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Country Club Faces Sex Discrimination Suit

September 13, 2000

MISSION VIEJO — Three female members of the Mission Viejo Country Club have filed a lawsuit alleging that the club discriminates against women by making it difficult for them to golf with their female friends.

The lawsuit also says that the club illegally bars women from eating at a male-only luxury lounge.

"There is absolutely no reason for it," said Michelle A. Reinglass, a Laguna Hills lawyer who filed the lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of members Kathleen Kellogg, Marguerite L. Skinner and Lorna Henricks. "The club needs to be opened up."

Van Rhebeck, president of the golf course's board of directors, said could not comment on the lawsuit until he studies it.

But Max DeLiema, a lawyer and former board member familiar with the case, denied any wrongdoing. "We've never discriminated against women," he said. "Women have all the privileges that men do."

According to the lawsuit, the problem stems from the two types of memberships offered by the club, designated as "Gold" and "Green," which determine when a member can play. Because club regulations require married couples sharing a membership to each accept a different designation, the lawsuit contends, many married women are forced to accept the Green membership, which comes with less desirable tee times.

As a result, the lawsuit says, "female members who opted for the superior Gold membership were denied the opportunity to play golf with female friends on Green days."

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