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High Court Gives Go-Ahead To Golf Discrimination Suit

FRIDAY, SEPT. 6, 1996

Patti Marquis says she hopes her lawsuit finally is out of the rough and approaching the green.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Marquis has the right to sue the city of Spokane for sex discrimination - something she has tried to do since 1990.

The high court decision allows Marquis’ lawsuit to go to trial, where she hopes to win an award of at least $2 million.

Marquis, now a teaching pro at Painted Hills Golf Course, said the city paid her a much lower salary from 1986 to 1989 when she worked at Downriver Golf Course than it paid the two men working as pros at the city’s other golf courses.

In 1992, however, the case was tossed out by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Marcus Kelly, who ruled that state sex discrimination laws don’t apply to independent contractors such as Marquis.

The state Court of Appeals reversed that decision in 1995. The city then appealed to the Supreme Court.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am” by Thursday’s ruling, Marquis said. “I feel that a wrong has been righted.”

For the past six years, Marquis has chosen not to apply for head-pro jobs in the Spokane area. “Any time you sue a former employer, it’s going to be tough to have that employer call someone and give a recommendation,” she said.

No trial date has been set.

City officials steadfastly have denied the discrimination claim.

After Marquis’ first three years, Parks and Recreation Department directors offered her a renewable annual contract. Marquis refused, saying the offer amounted to a probation period.

But city officials say the one-year offer was based on concerns over her job performance; they cite time spent away from the course and claim failure to maintain clean facilities.

, DataTimes

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