LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas Athletic Club (LVAC) may no longer be able to offer free enrollment to women if it does not do the same for men. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) has forwarded a complaint about the practice to the state’s attorney general’s office.
The complaint is actually one of three filed against LVAC by Todd Phillips. NERC determined the other two complaints were not justifiable, says Chad Smith, executive vice president of LVAC.
NERC reviews complaints and then forwards those it deems justifiable to the attorney general’s office. Smith plans to meet with the attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, in the next week to see if she plans to pursue the complaint.
LVAC normally charges a $99 enrollment fee, but during special promotions, it offers free enrollment to women and a $10 enrollment to men.
“The bad debt or failure on the men’s membership fees are higher for men than women,” Smith says. “It’s easy for us to justify giving them a better break because our costs are lower for women than men.”
One of the unjustified complaints was related to the club’s women-only areas. The LVAC offers a women-only workout room with trainers who have education in women’s health issues. The area also displays graphics and information about breast cancer—graphics that Smith says are not appropriate for the eyes of 16-year-old boys in the main area of the club. The women-only area also includes a sauna and steam room. The club used to have sauna and steam rooms in the men’s locker rooms, but closed those due to inappropriate behavior. However, Smith says he did not want to penalize women for that inappropriate behavior, so he kept the women-only sauna and steam room.
Phillips’ third complaint was that LVAC retaliated for his complaints by revoking his membership. However, Smith says that Phillips expressed dissatisfaction about the situation at the club, so management offered to release him from his two-year contract. Smith says that Phillips agreed to the release but then filed a complaint about it.
Smith is concerned about the repercussions a ruling against his club might have in the state. If his club cannot offer discounts based on gender, then businesses such as night clubs and insurance companies also would not be allowed to offer discounts based on gender, he says. In addition, discounts for age could also come under review, which could negate senior citizen discounts offered at restaurants, dry cleaners and other locations.
Right now, Smith is holding tight. He says he owes it to his female membership not to fold because of one man’s complaint. Smith says the club will abide by whatever decision the attorney general makes.