California LGBT Athlete Rights Attorney

We help put the ‘fair’ back in ‘fair fight.’

The history of competitive and professional sports includes many members of the LGBT community, some of whom faced significant discrimination and harassment because of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, discriminatory behavior is not yet a thing of the past. Several recent sports-related cases in California have highlighted that — a lesbian couple refused the same membership benefits at a country club, a gay couple harassed and prevented from training at an ice skating rink.

The Dolan Law Firm recently filed an LGBT athlete rights case against the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the Women’s Long Drive Association (LDA) on behalf of Lana Lawless, a transgender woman, and the 2008 Women’s LDA winner. Ms. Lawless is a professional golfer who must participate in LPGA qualifying events in order to be eligible to join the LPGA tour. The LPGA rejected her application based on rules that require that all players be born female. Lawless has undergone complete gender reassignment and is legally female. By rejecting her application because she is transgender, our firm asserts that her civil rights were violated. (See the full press release below.)

It’s important to fight discrimination wherever it occurs, including discrimination at commercial establishments like athletic clubs and country clubs, and in local, state, and national competitions. Athletics is a significant part of many people’s lives, gay or straight and LGBT athletes have rights, too. No one should have to miss an opportunity for involvement because of discrimination on the part of a business, or because they are unsafe in a public venue.

If you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment at a sports or athletic venue because you are LGBT, contact The Dolan Law Firm.

San Francisco Gay Athlete Discrimination Lawyer

Christopher Dolan, the founding member of The Dolan Law Firm, has a long history of fighting on behalf of the LGBT community. With almost 20 years of legal experience, he is well prepared to take your case to court.

He was the 2008 winner of the Ally Award by the Transgender Law Center. He has been chosen as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” by SuperLawyer magazine for five consecutive years. He was selected as the California Consumer Attorney of the Year. He holds an AV-Preeminent in the Martindale-Hubbell peer-review rating system for “highest legal ability” and ethical standards.*

Unruh Civil Rights Act and Equal Access

Our legal advocates fight hard to protect the rights of LGBT athletes to equal treatment and equal access under California law. California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits businesses from acting in a discriminatory manner. It states that:

“…all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

Any business that denies admission, charges different prices or provides a different level of service, or otherwise seeks to discourage fair and equal access to facilities or services is in violation of the law.

Contact a San Francisco Gay Athletic Discrimination Lawyer

If you, or someone you know has been discriminated against by a sports facility, schedule a free initial consultation.

Our lawyers work on a contingency meaning that you pay no fees or costs upfront. If we obtain a recovery on your behalf, we receive a percentage of any recovery we obtain for you. No recovery, no fee.

Press Release

Lana Lawless, a transgender woman, and the 2008 Women’s Long Drive Association (LDA) winner, has filed suit against the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the LDA for violation of her civil rights. Lawless, a professional golfer, applied to join the LPGA’s qualifying events in order to be eligible to join the tour; however, the LPGA rejected her application based on its rules that require all players, to qualify and compete, must be born female.

Lawless, a former male special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team member, has undergone a complete gender reassignment and is legally female. The suit, filed late October 12, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (CV 104599), claims that the LPGA and its sponsor CVS have engaged in discrimination based on sex/transgender status in violation of California’s landmark Unruh anti-discrimination law which protects transgender persons from discrimination in the provision of goods, services, and contracts.

The suit also claims that, after Lawless won the Re/Max Woman’s LDA championship, the LDA changed its rules to exclude her from participating in future contests by adopting the LPGA’s “born female” requirement.

Lawless’ attorney, Christopher Dolan of The Dolan Law Firm in San Francisco, stated, “California’s civil rights laws prevent discrimination against all minorities, including transgender persons. The LPGA and LDA operate a number of high profile qualifying events and tournaments in California, which are highly lucrative to their sponsors.

“There are a handful of states which protect the civil rights of transgender persons. The intended outcome of this suit is to force the LPGA and the LDA to change their unlawful practices or be precluded from operating within California and other states, such as New York, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual reassignment. They will have to choose between continuing with their tournaments or their discrimination,” continued Dolan.

The suit, filed the day before the CVS LPGA Challenge at the Black Hawk Country Club in Danville, California, seeks to enjoin the LPGA and LDA from hosting their tournaments and/or qualifying events in California as long as they exclude transgender women from participating. It also seeks damages against the LPGA, LDA, and their sponsors, CVS, Re/Max and, Dick’s Sporting Goods, for violating Lawless’ civil rights and for interfering with her ability to earn a living as a professional golfer.

According to Lawless, “I have traveled a long road to get to where I am now, a place where I always belonged as a strong, proud, capable woman. I am, in all respects, legally, and physically female. The state of California recognizes me as such and the LPGA should not be permitted to come into California and blatantly violate my rights. I just want to have the same opportunity to play professional golf as any other woman.”

In stark contrast to the LPGA and LDA, the U.S. Golf Association has a gender policy that expressly includes gender reassigned females in its tournaments and activities. The International Olympic Committee, since 2004, has included transpeople in Olympic events. Likewise, the NCAA has a policy of inclusion for transpeople.

“I could participate in female wrestling in international Olympic events but, here in my own state, in my chosen profession, because of blatant prejudice, I am excluded and discriminated against,” added Lawless. “Before I won the Re/Max Women’s LDA Championship, the only requirement for participation was that I was over 18 and female. As a result of my winning the tournament, which was based on my skill, and not my gender, they changed the rules to require that I be born female. This is not only unlawful, it is shameful.”

“It is important to fight intolerance wherever it rears its ugly head. This unlawful activity harkens back to the days when African Americans were precluded from qualifying and playing in professional golf tournaments,” said Dolan. “As Americans, we must always be vigilant against the poison and hatred bred from prejudice and discrimination. America was founded on the principal of tolerance for differences in beliefs and, over time, that principal has been recognized to include protection against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc. The LPGA can’t be permitted to violate California law.” added Dolan.

*”AV® Preeminent ™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.” Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Ratings fall into two categories — legal ability and general ethical standards.