This story originally appeared on 6abc.
One of the top golf clubs in the country is also accused of being one of the worst when it comes to including women.
Pine Valley Golf Club has agreed to a $200,000 settlement over allegations that the club violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
The New Jersey Attorney General says the exclusive golf course, which Golf Digest recently named the number one course in the country, engaged in practices that prevented women from being members and gave few women the chance to be employees during its 110-year history.
“(Pine Valley was) restricting the environment to men in a way that ultimately we found violated our laws,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
It led the Division of Civil Rights to file a Complaint in April 2022. That complaint has now been settled for $200,000.
“A number of people brought complaints forward including a member of the state legislature,” said Platkin when asked how the issue was brought to the attention of his office.
According to the terms of the settlement, Pine Valley must now post at least 75% of its job openings online and in local newspapers.
Its previous hiring practice was exclusively word of mouth, resulting in less than four percent of employees being women. Most of them were hired for jobs that don’t interact with members.
“They have to end those practices and show their employment practices are noticed in a way that encourages women to apply and ultimately work there,” said Platkin.
Pine Valley also has more than a dozen houses onsite, but those houses were only sold or leased to men who were members. The only women who were allowed to purchase or lease houses were the ones who co-owned the homes with men.
“That in and of itself was restrictive,” said Platkin. “So all of that is going to have to change and the club knows that and has agreed to those changes.”
The club only started allowing women as members in 2021 as an investigation was launched. The settlement now requires Pine Valley to provide anti-discrimination training for all employees.
It also prevents the club from enforcing a previous rule that banned male employees from wearing earrings. The settlement goes on to state that club employees cannot be hindered from dressing or grooming in a manner that corresponds with their gender or gender identity.
The $200,000 settlement breakdown is as follows: $100,000 to the Division of Civil Rights (including attorney’s fees), $45,000 to a scholarship endowment for an organization that provides training for women caddies, and $55,000 to a scholarship for the Rutgers Women’s Golf team.
Pine Valley must also submit an annual report including changes in employment and membership to the Division of Civil Rights.
“Every woman in the state of New Jersey who wants to participate there, they should be able to do so,” said Platkin.
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