A militant national coalition of Jaycees, in the first of a planned rash of legal skirmishes against the leadership of the national men's community group, has filed a class-action suit here to prevent the ouster of women members in Massachusetts.
The action by the Alliance for Women Membership was prompted by threats from national President Barry Kennedy that local charters around the country will be revoked at a Jan. 19 meeting of the group's executive board unless women members are expelled by then.
A hearing was set for Friday in Middlesex County Superior Court on the alliance's request for an injuction.
The alliance charges the national group with six discrimination, and it has filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
Danielle E. Debenedictis, attorney for the alliance, said that suits against the national leadership are expected in other parts of the country on the state level and that a federal suit is under consideration.
In what some members saw as urban-rural split within the organization, the national convention in Atlantic City June 21 voted overwhelmingly to end women membership by Dec. 1.
The order has been defied by dizens of chapters, including New York City and Chicago, which dropped out of the club and Massachusetts, which formed the alliance to seek a legal solution.
Some members have claimed that a feminine influence in the men's club would cause discord. Kennedy has claimed that the leadership is merely enforcing the organization's rules-not discriminating against women. The women's auxiliary, the Jayceettes, is offered as an alternative for women barred from the Jaycees.
"They are destroying the organization by enforcing the bylaws," said Jack Kendrick, president of the heavily female Boston chapter. "The attitude of the national organization is archaic at best.
"I don't think Barry Kennedy realizes this is 1978, not 1928," he said. "Women are a major part of the business community today. They're not barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen any more."