A husband and wife who are members of the Woodbridge Township, N.J., club filed a lawsuit against the facility, claiming they lost most of their privileges because they pushed for equal treatment of female members. Liza and Joseph Garrubbo are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, naming the club, club President, and 14 other Board of Trustees members as defendants in the suit.
A husband and wife who are members of the Plainfield Country Club in Woodbridge Township, N.J., have filed suit against the facility, claiming they have lost most of their privileges because they pushed for equal treatment for female members, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.
In the suit, Liza Garrubbo said she was suspended for the 2013 season and that her husband, Joseph Garrubbo, was forced off the Board of Trustees and ostracized because of the couple’s push to get wider privileges for women, the Star-Ledger reported.
Andrew Watson, the couple’s lawyer, said Liza, a three-time women’s champ at Plainfield, was essentially kicked out of the club. “What they effectively did is expel her,” Watson said in an interview.
According to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in New Brunswick, Liza served on the club’s “golf committee” from 2010 through 2012 but was removed after she pushed to get women more equitable treatment, including access to prime tee times, the Star-Ledger reported.
Joseph was removed as chairman of the policy and human resources committee after he appointed two women, including his wife, to the committee so it would include a broader spectrum of members, the suit states.
In response to the appointment of the two women, Joseph Garrubbo received “an ear-splitting voice mail, laced with profanity,” allegedly from club President Paul Sauchelli, the court papers state.
Joseph was told to withdraw as a candidate for re-nomination to the board, but he refused and became the target of a campaign against his re-election, the suit states. He was not returned to the board, the Star-Ledger reported.
Messages left for Sauchelli at the club and at his home by the Star-Ledger were not returned. It is not clear if any other efforts to reach the club were made.
In April, the court papers state, Liza addressed the annual meeting of the “Ladies 18-holer group” calling for the women to support change. In June, according to court papers, she received an email from the trustees accusing her of conduct “deemed by the Board to be detrimental to the welfare of the club,” the Star-Ledger reported
After a hearing, Liza Garrubbo’s club privileges were suspended for the 2013 season and she was told she could return after she apologized to the Board of Trustees, according to the complaint.
The couple also claims the trustees changed their policy to prevent Joseph from transferring any of his privileges to his wife, the Star-Ledger reported.
Liza is an “associate golf member” as are 95 percent of the club’s female members, while 95 percent of the “active members” are men, according to the suit. Active members enjoy more privileges than associate members, the Star-Ledger reported.
“The golfing world has long been the bastion of white male supremacy,” said Watson. “Courageous people like Joseph and Liza Garrubbo, who stand up for the rights of others, should be encouraged to speak out and not stifled and punished as they have been by the Plainfield Country Club.”
Sauchelli and the club are named as defendants in the suit, along with 14 other members of the board of trustees. In addition to unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, the suit seeks Liza Garrubbo’s reinstatement as an associate member in good standing, the Star-Ledger reported.