No More Ladies’ Nights?
In the 1950s there was a law passed in California that was meant to prevent discrimination against minorities and women. But now a National Coalition for Men (NCFM), represented by attorney Alfred G. Rava, have filed numerous complaints against California businesses claiming gender discrimination.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act was passed in 1959 to state that all Californians are “free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” The 56-year-old law was named after California Democrat Jesse M. Unruh and, according to an account reported by Yahoo, Stephanie Burns was recently accused of violating it.
Burns founded Chic CEO, a free online platform for female entrepreneurs which provides business advice to women, in 2008. Occasionally, Chic CEO hosted networking events for members and other women. During one such networking event in April 2014 in downtown San Diego two men, Allan Candelore and Rich Allison, showed up saying they had each prepaid a $20 registration fee for the event on the Chic CEO website.
In her interview with Yahoo, Burns alleges that a lawsuit was filed against her, the company that her business partner’s husband owned, and the restaurant after Candelore and Allison were informed it was a women-only event and were turned away.
“I was completely confused,” Burns told Yahoo. “Chic CEO does not discriminate against men.” Prior to the event Burns even consulted with a lawyer, who cleared the women-only event, especially since Chic CEO had male clients, subscribers, mentors, and advisory board members.
As reported by Yahoo, Rava has allegedly been a plaintiff in several discrimination lawsuits, “including a case against a string of downtown San Diego clubs for ‘ladies night’ discounts, for which Rava and another plaintiff, Steven Surrey, earned $125,000, and a Club Med ‘Ladies Fly Free’ travel promotion, for which the settlement cost a total of $400,000 in attorney and court fees for the company,” reports Yahoo.
As reported by Yahoo, Candelore has been the plaintiff in 11 civil cases since 2011; Rava represented him in 10 cases. In nine of those, Crouch was also a plaintiff and in eight of them Allison was a plaintiff.
Legal fees around such cases can be high. “Currently the law has something called a one-way attorney’s fee clause, which means that if a plaintiff sues someone and wins, the defendant is required to pay the attorney’s’ fees on top of damages. But a plaintiff who sues and loses is not required to cover the defendant’s attorney fees,” reports Yahoo. And according to the statute, the minimum amount a defendant must pay in damages is $4,000 for each plaintiff.
The whole situation has devastated Burns who, as a result, has had to forget her CEO Chic venture and has taken a position as COO at another firm. “It was my life, it was what I wanted to do,” she said.
As reported by Yahoo, Rava has alleged that “Chic CEO never refunded my two clients the $20 they each prepaid Chic for a reservation for the event.”
*As of 10/19/15 this article has been updated based on clarifications offered by Mr. Rava.