The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found on Monday that a condominium’s sex-segregated pool time policy in the heavily dominated New Jersey neighborhood of Lakewood discriminated against women.
The court ruled for a group of owners who sued after each were fined $50 by their condominium association for violating the rules of A Country Place Condominium Association about the pool that includes separate swimming times for men and women in accordance with strict modesty standards upheld by Orthodox Jews, who consist of two-thirds of the association’s residents during of the 2016 lawsuit.
The judges said the policy violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal Fair Housing Act, which “makes it an unlawful housing practice to “discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.”
The judges said “inequitable features” in the swimming schedule was unlawful in that on weeknights, women were allotted 3.5 hours of pool time after 5 p.m., while the men had 16.5 hours. Only 25 hours were allocated for people of all sexes.
Judge Thomas Ambro ruled that “women with regular-hour jobs thus have little access to the pool during the work week, and the schedule appears to reflect particular assumptions about the roles of men and women.”
While they stopped short of ruling that any gender-segregated pool is unlawful, one of the judges expressed “vehement disapproval of segregation” over the “separate, but equal” policies.
The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for gender equality,” said Sandra Park, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Women’s Right Project, in a statement.