Legal Question in Business Law in Washington

Right to refuse service

I have a member in my womens health club who is rude and says hurtful things to other women. When ever I ask her to stop doing something like I ask her to take her cell phone outside because that is our policy... she constantly continues to ask why. I give her the answers and then she starts asking other members if thay think it is fair. Then, when I am not there she verbally attacks my staff and says rude things about me. I have members who have changed their routine because they do not want to be there when she is there and other members have complained about her rudeness towards them and towards others. I asked her to leave the club but she continues to return and told me that she will continue to come--name removed--

What are my rights. How do I keep her out of my club for good and get her to never come back?

Asked on 10/03/07, 4:28 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Susan Beecher Susan L. Beecher, Atty at Law

Re: Right to refuse service

I'm assuming you are the owner or manager of this club. I'm also assuming that when this woman became a member of your club, she signed a contract of some kind. Does the contract spell out the rules and the obligations of members? Does it spell out remedies if the rules are not obeyed? If so, this makes it relatively straightforward to terminate her membership, if the contract provides for that.

If the rules and policies are not clearly communicated to all members, through the contracts they sign, things get a bit more complex. It is very important that the expectations be communicated to everyone, and that the rules be enforced consistently.

If you do not have a contract with your members that spells these things out, you might want to check with an attorney about the details of this specific case, and you also might want to have that attorney draw up a clause for your contracts that covers this.

In general, you can refuse service to someone who is not abiding by the terms of the bargain (whether that means not paying, or unreasonably disturbing other patrons) but you want to be sure there is no basis to claim that service was denied for an illegal (discriminatory) reason.

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Answered on 10/03/07, 7:05 pm

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