LAKEWOOD – A Lakewood condominium association has landed itself in hot water after the court ruled the association violated women’s rights by segregating swimming hours for male and female residents.
After a few homeowners in the community filed a lawsuit against the association, the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals recently ruled that ‘A Country Place Condominium Association’ community violated women’s rights. The condo complex serves a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community.
Residents Diana and Steve Lusardi and Marie Curto filed the suit in State Superior Court claiming that the swimming policy violates the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act and the NJ law against discrimination. According to the Fair Housing Act, it is unlawful 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.”
According to court documents, these residents were fined $50 each time they violated the association’s swimming policy. The Condominium Association reportedly established the “segregation” rules in order to accommodate the Orthodox principle of tzniut. This principle emphasizes modesty, deeming it “improper for men and women to see each other in a state of undress—including bathing attire.”
The swimming schedule, enhanced back in 2016 to encompass even stricter rules, allows men 31.5 hours per week to swim. During this time, women are not allowed access to the pool. Women were given 34.25 hours for “women’s swim,” a time in which men were not allowed accessed. In addition, 25 hours of swim time are open to everyone.
The rules also allow for only 3.5 hours of pool time after 5 p.m. for women, compared to 16.5 hours for men, which the residents claimed was unlawful.
The American Civil Liberties Union joined in the lawsuit on behalf of the three residents. The ACLU released a statement following the court’s verdict, calling the ruling “a victory for gender equality.”