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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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My wife is a member of a beagle club, designed to allow members

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My wife is a member of a beagle club, designed to allow members to train their dogs to hunt rabbits. As a member, you have access to the club grounds, when ever a club event is not being held. To be a member, you must be voted in and pay $100 per year and accumulate a certain number of point that can be acquired by working at events, attending meetings or working to improve the grounds. The bylaws of the club state that students are exempt from acquiring the required number of points to maintain membership. My wife is a student who works full time and has been managing a debilitating disease for the past 8 years. All three of which make it difficult for her to participate in the work parties (amounting to physical manual labor), yet she continues to attend and work at club events and meetings, and has even purchased and donated a portion of the cost of materials used for repairs to the clubs facilities. One more thing, she/we do not own beagles, but basset hounds, making her one of about 5 members of the club who's total membership is in the 30-50 range that own bassets. In the three years she has been a member, the membership has proposed and in some cases passed or changed bylaws specifically designed to target basset hound members to make it more difficult for them to maintain membership. These bylaws include, removing the exemption for students, eliminating point earned for attending meetings, eliminating point earned for working at basset hound events, mandating work party involvement, tripling the dues for members that do not participate which includes the revocation of the right of these members to vote on club concerns, and others. In an attempt to appease the membership for my wife's inability to participate, I have offered to trade places with her as a member. Upon making this suggestion, she was told that in the event I traded places with her, I would not be able to vote on club concerns.

My question is, in the event that we are unable to come to any sort of agreement on this issue, is there any precedent or action that can be taken to achieve justice. If we do not maintain membership, we will lose the ability to organize and run basset hound events at this club, accounting for one of only 4 clubs on the East Coast that we are able to organize events at. My concern is regarding the apparent blatant discrimination against my wife and the potential loss of this facility as a running grounds for our events. I understand this to be a very low key case, but when looking at the broad picture, while this is only a hobby, it lends itself to the development of my wife's company, the development and breeding of hunting basset hounds. From that perspective, the involvement in and access to the club and its facilities provide my wife with one of the few opportunities to train and gain recognition for our hounds through the success at the basset trials. For instance, our breeding pair had a litter of puppy's a year and a half ago, and the puppy's all sold as house pets, despite being raised as hunters. Since then, both dogs have become champion hounds in the American Hunting Basset Association, and the Male was the High point hound of the year, having won 7 events last year alone, three of which were at the club in question, where he was trained. We are now expecting a litter, and we have been approached by multiple members of the AHBA with interest in the puppies at a value of approximately 70% more than the puppies we sold a year and a half ago. Putting that into perspective, this becomes a bigger deal for us.

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, I am sorry to hear of this situation. Unfortunately (as you may already be aware) the ADA does not extend to private clubs or religious organizations, so your wife's disability will not give her any protection from the actions or requirements of the private club. While it may be inequitable and unjust, your wife is at the mercy of the club as to the resolution of this matter. There is a strong judicial history of allowing clubs to decide their membership and their membership requirements. It appears that the club is at least open to some form of resolution, and perhaps they will open themselves up to further discussion and a more equitable result (it certainly appears they are acting unfairly to put it mildly), but they do have the final say in this type of matter.

William B. Esq. :

I do wish you and your wife the best, XXXXX XXXXX have any questions or if I can further assist you, please do not hesitate to ask and I will follow up promptly. I do wish that I had something more helpful to your position, but I want to ensure that you have as clear an understanding of the law as possible so that you can plan your next steps accordingly.

William B. Esq. :

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