You are here:

Nonprofit Law/Membership/Board meetings


Our recreational swim team has told a family that they cannot join the team and should not be attending our meetings.  As a 501(c)3 are we within our rights to do this?

An organization may legally discriminate for most reasons but may
not legally discriminate for other reasons.

There are federal laws that apply to certain businesses (whether
for-profit or nonprofit), but I do not know of any that would apply
simply to membership of a private club (unless, for example, they
provide public accommodations). is the Title II of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 as to "Public Accommodations".

So, unless the family was told that they could not join the team because of their race or religion, for example, then they would not have a cause of action in court to require the 501(c)(3) organization to accept them, unless there was something, possibly, in the organization's Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws that would mandate acceptance or, possibly a contract that the 501(c)(3) organization had with the city or other government entity that mandated acceptance.

Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

Nonprofit Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

©2017 All rights reserved.