National Organization for Women, Essex County Chapter v. Little League Baseball, Inc.

318 A.2d 33 (1974)

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National Organization for Women, Essex County Chapter v. Little League Baseball, Inc.

New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division
318 A.2d 33 (1974)

Facts

Little League Baseball, Inc. (Little League) (defendant) chartered local youth baseball leagues in New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States. Little League prohibited girls over age eight from its program. The National Organization for Women, Essex County Chapter (plaintiff) filed a complaint against Little League with New Jersey’s Division on Civil Rights (division), asserting that the ban on girls aged eight through 12 violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination. The act prohibits the operator of a “place of accommodation” from discriminating on the basis of sex, except if the accommodation is in its nature reasonably restricted to one sex, such as summer camps, swimming pools, bathhouses, dressing rooms, and comfort stations. Little League defended its policy on the ground that physical differences between boys and girls aged eight through 12 meant that girls were more likely to be injured playing baseball than boys. The division rejected Little League’s safety justification and ordered it and the leagues it chartered in New Jersey to allow girls aged eight through 12 to participate. Little League appealed. In addition to reiterating its safety argument, Little League contended on appeal that (1) the act was preempted by its federal charter, which refers only to boys and reflected a national policy in favor of certain boys-only activities; (2) it was not a place of accommodation because it did not have a specific location; and (3) it qualified for an exception under the act because it was reasonably restricted to boys.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Conford, J.)

Dissent (Meanor, J.)

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