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Women win sex discrimination case against club

BOSTON, USA: Nine female players who said they were given terrible tee times and denied other country club benefits because of their gender were awarded nearly $US2 millionby a jurytoday.

The amount of the damages – from a Superior Court jury of seven men and seven women – even surprised attorneys for the plaintiffs.

"I think it's a case which puts country clubs and other institutions on notice that women have a right to the same opportunities as men," said Assistant Attorney General Anthony Rodriguez, whose office represented the women.

Henry Owens, the attorney for the Haverhill Country Club, said there was no discrimination at the club, called the damages excessive and promised to appeal.

The women claimed in their 1995 suit that they were denied the club's most sought-after memberships, called "primary memberships," and the benefits that went with them.

The club began offering such memberships to women in 1992, but the lawsuit said the directors manipulated the waiting list so only a few women received them.

Owens said the women who sued weren't willing to pay the higher fees for the primary memberships. Rodriguez said the club's board of directors did not adequately inform women how to become primary members, nor did they tell applicants they had to pay extra fees.