This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Snowboarders in Utah are asking a federal appeals court to reverse the dismissal of their lawsuit that claims Alta Ski Resort is discriminating against them by banning snowboarding.
In an appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Wasatch Equality and four snowboarders say their suit extensively detailed the history and irrationality of Alta's ban, which they allege is based on stereotypes that boarders are "undesirables." They claim the dismissal of their suit at an early stage of litigation less than a year after it was filed was inappropriate.
The boarders filed suit in January 2014 against Alta and the U.S. Forest Service, arguing they were being irrationally discriminated against and deserved protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which historically has been used in cases involving discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation. The ban, the snowboarders said, had no place on public land.
The suit was dismissed in September by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City, who ruled there are rational reasons for Alta to ban snowboarding.
In his decision, Benson said there was no basis for the lawsuit's claim that the ban was "based on Alta's belief that snowboarders are undesirable people with obnoxious habits and characteristics."
He found that the suit could not go forward under the law because the ban was a decision made by the ski resort and not the Forest Service, which leases the land to the resort. And Alta's decision was based on a rational business model that includes its desire to market to skiers only and a belief its terrain is not conducive to snowboarders, the judge wrote.
In a brief filed Tuesday, the snowboarders allege that the "purported justifications" for the snowboarding ban are a pretext for discrimination and that Benson should not have relied on them in throwing out their suit.