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Long story short, I have issues with sorority girls dating back to when I was younger that I don't really want to elaborate on here. I have little to no problem with fraternity brothers, and so I wouldn't ask about that on the application, and I wouldn't discriminate against them in hiring.

I know that joining an organization doesn't grant you protected group status, and people are free to not hire, say, Proud Boys, Freemasons, or Klansmen. The Right of Free Association is protected by the Constitution.

However, would hiring fraternity brothers but not sorority girls put me at risk for a gender discrimination lawsuit? I live in the USA, and I own the business myself, so I don't have to worry about anyone else in my business objecting to this.

Some of my issues with sorority girls are personal and I won't go into that here, but some aren't really personal, and I will briefly summarize them.

  • Sororities aren't exactly respectable, in terms of the way they dress and a lot of the actions they engage in (heavy drinking, trashy partying, a lot of hooking up, a lot of their clothing isn't exactly decent). Essentially, in my eyes, all that joining a sorority can give you was a reputation.
  • Most of them do illegal things that often cross the line into s*xual assault during hazing (I know one sorority tied string around men's "parts" and made them sign things with a pen attached to the string)
  • They refuse to divulge their sorority's secrets with outsiders, so in addition to not liking people who exclude me from things and keep me out of the loop, I have no way to be sure that they weren't involved in illegal hazing, I don't want to hire someone who did that kind of stuff, even if they seem to have changed since then, just like most people wouldn't want to hire Brock Turner even if he cleaned up his act.
  • Their organizations are discriminatory against so-called "GDIs" (people not affiliated with one of those weird little clubs), just like the Proud Boys, they look down on outsiders, and I don't want to hire someone who would look down on me. They never let guys like me into any of their parties in college.
  • Even a sorority girl who wasn't spending most of her free time drinking, partying, hooking up and hazing people still was okay with that behavior, it wasn't a dealbreaker for her, or she wouldn't have joined, just like how not everyone who voted for (a certain political candidate) agreed with his racism and sexism, but they all thought it wasn't a dealbreaker.
  • They are stuck up, which is weird because they only have those Greek letters because their rich daddies. I don't have many friends, but the few I have, we honestly bonded in legitimate ways instead of buying friends and then getting hazed together by sadistic sociopathic mean girls.
  • Even someone who has been out of college for, say, 5 years, and seems kind, conscientious and smart, but was affiliated with a sorority still has that millstone around her neck. In my eyes, people who have a past of doing bad stuff can never truly earn redemption. I don't feel that I have the right to say their sins are forgiven and their crimes are reprieved.

So, can I screen applicants for a sorority affiliation and not hire them, or am I opening myself up to lawsuits?

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Your question is basically a thesis statement of why there are anti-discrimination laws: unjustified, stereotyping of a group based on a common characteristic and prejudicial treatment as a result by people with power. Your negative experiences, whatever they are, came from individuals, not organisations - to tar everyone associated with the latter with the sins of the former is unethical. But it may not be illegal.

As to your question: this is clearly discrimination based on gender and unlawful where this is legislated against. In the USA there is a Federal law prohibiting it, but there are also similar laws in some states. If you discriminated against fraternity members as well, that would not be gender discrimination: it is the discrimination against female-only organisations that makes it gender discrimination.

Notwithstanding, even if you made your discrimination gender=neutral, this is still discrimination based on the person’s affiliation. This is not protected under Federal law, but some states do protect it.

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  • When they had the power during college days, they excluded me, now the shoe is on the other foot and I pay them back in kind. I'm not sure it counts as gender-based discrimination, since I'm fine hiring a woman who wasn't in a sorority. Discrimination because of a group someone chose to join is very different than discriminating based on an immutable characteristic like race, disability, orientation. If I also discriminate against the Proud Boys (male-only group), then will I not get in trouble for gender discrimination?
    – Tom P
    Oct 15, 2023 at 0:10
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    @TomP are you saying that everyone ever who was in a sorority discriminated against you including people you never met? Doesn’t seem likely
    – Dale M
    Oct 15, 2023 at 3:44
  • No, but they all were okay with joining an organization with a discriminatory attitude towards people like me
    – Tom P
    Oct 15, 2023 at 9:58

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