ARTICLES FROM THE ARCHIVES
In any event, The Chicago Club felt it was differ-
ent from the University Club in many significant respects. It set forth its position in a lengthy state- ment, which was sent to the EEOC in August 1991. The Chicago Club heard nothing from the EEOC
until September 1992, 13 months later, when it received a letter rejecting the club’s position and threatening to sue within days unless the club was willing to concede that it was not the type of private membership club excluded from Title VII’s definition of employer. Because The Chicago Club felt strongly that it was indeed an exempt private club, it decided it had no choice but to defend its position. The EEOC filed suit in October 1992.
THE COURT PROCEEDINGS Following the close of discovery in 1994, both the
EEOC and The Chicago Club filed motions for sum- mary judgment. Each side argued that there were no factual disputes and that each was entitled to judg- ment as a matter of law. In January 1995, a federal magistrate judge issued a report and recommenda- tion granting The Chicago Club’s motion for sum- mary judgment and denying the similar motion filed by the EEOC. Approximately two months later, in March 1995,
the magistrate’s report and recommendation was adopted by the Federal District Court. The EEOC appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Oral arguments were heard in January 1996 and
on June 6, the Court of Appeals entered a decision affirming the District Court’s decision in favor of The Chicago Club.
THE ISSUES BEFORE THE COURTS In analyzing the decisions entered in this case, it
may be helpful to focus on three separate issues. First, what type of club is excluded from Title VII? Or, in legal terms, what is the appropriate standard to be applied in determining whether an organiza- tion is a “bona fide private membership club exempt from taxation under Section 501(c),” specifically excluded from the definition of employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? The second question is whether the EEOC carries
the burden of proving that a club is covered by Title VII, or whether a club must prove it is not. Third, when applying the legal standard to the relevant facts, is The Chicago Club covered by Title VII?
THE APPLICABLE STANDARD In July, 1986, the EEOC issued its most recent
policy statement on bona fide private membership clubs. According to the statement (number N-91S): [A]n organization is a bona fide private member-
ship club if it: (1) Is a club in the ordinary sense of the word. (2) Is private. (3) Requires meaningful conditions of limited membership.
In The Chicago Club case, the EEOC attempted
to add other requirements to the standard. For example, the EEOC argued that an organization is a private club only if its members’ First Amend- ment associational values would be threatened if that organization were required to comply with Title VII. Under this requirement, in order to show a club was excluded from Title VII, the club
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THE BEST OF CLUB DIRECTOR
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