This case involved a dispute between association members and a Condominium Association (Association) over the validity of rules that had been adopted by Association which implemented a schedule of times when men and women had exclusive use of Associations swimming pool. The rules that Association adopted allowed men 31.5 hours per week to swim when women could not use the pool, women 34.25 hours per week when men could not use the pool, and 25 hours per week of coed swimming. The rules also allowed for 3.5 hours of womens pool time after 5 p.m., compared to 16.5 hours for men. The reason for Associations adoption of the rules was to accommodate Orthodox Jewish members whose religious beliefs preventing men and women seeing each other in a state of undress, including bathing attire.
The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Association alleging that the swimming pool policy violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and New Jersey state laws against discrimination. The FHA states that 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. This FHA law applies to condominium associations and Associations communal pool is a facility associated with a dwelling within the meaning of the statute. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Association after concluding that Associations gender-segregated pool schedule applied equally to men and women. The plaintiffs then appealed.
In applying the law to the facts of the case, the Appellate Court found that Associations pool schedule discriminated in its allotment of different times to men and women in addition to employing sex as its criterion. Recognizing that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids sex classifications based on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of men and women, and that gender classifications must be free of fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of men and women, the Appellate Court concluded that Associations pool policy violated the FHA.
Accordingly, the Trial Courts judgment was reversed the case was remanded back to the District Court with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their claim under the FHA.
See case decision: Curto_v._A_Country_Condo._Ass’n_Inc.