You are here

May club deny membership to an individual?

Your Legal Questions Answered

May club deny membership to an individual?

May a nonprofit sports club deny membership to an individual? Under what circumstances would this be allowed? What risks does it involve?

Obviously you can deny admission to someone who does not meet the required (nondiscriminatory) qualifications. You can get into trouble if you are large enough and open enough to be considered a public accommodation and the applicant claims you have discriminated against a member of a protected class. Trade associations occasionally get into trouble for alleged antitrust violation if they deny membership to a qualified applicant, but that argument is not likely to be applied to a sports club. Your biggest issue may be a public relations issue if you deny admission to otherwise qualified applicants. It may not be popular with some existing members or the broader public.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I am starting a sports club membership at my small retail shop. Can I deny my competition membership? I will have social activities and see this to be an opportunity for my competition to solicit the same products I sell to my members in my place of business. 

I don't know any legal reason you couldn't deny membership to a competitor.  —Don Kramer

Add new comment

Sign-up for our weekly Q&A; get a free report on electioneering