Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Elaine Joyce is used to big wins as a champion amateur golfer, and she experienced another victory on Monday in court. The U.S. Federal Court in Boston ruled that Joyce was the victim of sex discrimination. Joyce sued the town of Dennis after being barred from participation in a tournament at the Dennis Pines Golf Course in Cape Cod. Unlike her wins in golf, however, this courtroom triumph has required years of fighting a lonely battle.
In 2007, Elaine Joyce wanted to play in a men’s tournament. After all, it was being held at Dennis Pines, a club where she is a member, and she had played in coed tournaments before. When Joyce was flatly rejected and told that she was not allowed to participate in the tournament, she was shocked. Granted, Elaine Joyce had encountered the “old boy’s club” mentality in the world of golf before, but rarely did she ever experience blatant discrimination. Elaine Joyce retaliated and filed a lawsuit in 2008 alleging that the town of Dennis, and other officials and organizations, were guilty of discriminating against her simply because she is a woman.
The suit requested a mere $500.00 and that Dennis Pines be required to inform female golfers at the club of their rights. The judge obliged and recognized the hypocrisy involved in the sport of golf. Furthermore, Judge Gorton ruled that Elaine Joyce was protected under federal civil rights laws and therefore is entitled to damages and legal fees. No trial date has been set to determine those fees as of yet.
Both Judge Gorton and Elaine Joyce hope that an important precedent will be set as a result of this long, messy case. For years, private golf clubs have practiced discrimination while using government money to fund segregated tournaments. Foreign golf tournaments have already heard the warning of this case, and the golf world is awaiting big changes in the way men and women play the sport.