Considered whether the Fraternal Order of Eagles' scope of operations made it a "public accommodation" under state law, forbidding it to discriminate against female members.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, a social club, barred its local chapters from admitting new female applicants on the ground that they would inhibit the secret rituals of the male membership. The local chapters and female members filed an action alleging gender discrimination in public accommodations in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). The Washington Supreme Court found that although WLAD exempted "fraternal organizations" that were "distinctly private in nature" from its provision prohibiting sex discrimination in public accommodations, in this case, several factors-the size of the fraternal order's worldwide membership and operations, the scope of its membership recruitment programs and its involvement in community service-indicated the fraternal order was not "private." Thus, the court found that the fraternal order was not exempt from WLAD's public accommodation provisions and could not discriminate against new female members.