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Exclusive Tennessee club accused of anti-Australian bias

January 11, 2012 |  7:36 am

Tennessee's exclusive Belle Meade Country Club is confronting a novel issue in the tolerance department these days: a charge of anti-Australianism.

An Australian chef who was fired from the club in 2010 has filed a discrimination suit against the club, claiming that his boss repeatedly berated him, according to reporter Pierce Greenberg of The City Paper in Nashville.

The chef, Richard Jones, alleges that his boss, an executive sous chef, made numerous comments about Australia being undeveloped and backwards, and about its people being "unrefined," according to Greenberg.

One might think that an Australian living in Tennessee -- the state that brought the world moonshine, eye-gouging, and "Hee Haw" -- would have ample raw material from which to sculpt a sufficiently disparaging rejoinder.

It is unclear if Jones ever went there. But his lawsuit is asking for $150,000 in punitive damages and another $150,000 for emotional distress, pain and suffering, Greenberg wrote.

It's fair to say that the Belle Meade Country Club is not an eye-gouging and moonshining kind of joint. The city of Belle Meade, part of the Nashville metropolitan area, boasts a median household income of $235,000. Just down the road from the country club, a six-bedroom, 20,000-square-foot estate is currently going for $19.5 million.

The Nashville Scene newspaper has chronicled allegations that the private club engages in "less than inclusionary practices" and has an "almost exclusively white membership."

Greenberg notes that a federal judicial panel determined that the club engaged in "invidious discrimination" in December and reprimanded a judge in Nashville for being a member.


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--Richard Fausset

Photo: Paul Hogan as Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, an iconic Australian. Credit: Jasin Boland / Bangalow Film, LLC