Man sues hotel over ladies’ night promotion; claims discrimination

June 24, 2011

Ladies NightFor all of those who thought civil rights activism was dead, consider this: a lone crusader is fighting against the “repugnant and unlawful” practice of…ladies’ night.

Steve Frye, a California man, is suing the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village for having a “Girls’ Night Out” promotion.

The promotion works the same way as other ladies’ night specials: it offers discounted drinks and free appetizers to female patrons.

If you’re not from California (or Wisconsin or Maryland, for that matter), you may find the lawsuit ridiculous.

The lawsuit, though, has merit, since ladies’ night-type promotions are an illegal form of gender discrimination in California (and in Wisconsin and Maryland, if you’re curious).

The practice was first outlawed in the California Supreme Court’s 1985 ruling Koire v. Metro Car Wash, and affirmed in 2007’s Angelucci v. Century Supper Club, so Frye’s claim is legit.

Was the harm done to Frye so great as to justify a lawsuit?

Individually, probably not, since it’s probably a matter of no more than $50 for the one night he attended the promotion.

Of course, that’s why Frye is seeking certification for a class action.  And attorneys’ fees.

Given that, I can’t imagine that the hotel would want to actually litigate this case when the law is so far out of its favor, so this complaint may be as far as it gets.

This was probably just a case of a business owner who wasn’t familiar with the unique laws of California and thought the promotion as nothing more than a common and harmless business practice to increase sales.

Still, I have to wonder if the gross victimization Frye is claiming is sincere.

He claims that “Four Seasons’ invidious Girls’ Night Out promotion caused discontent, animosity, harm, resentment, or envy among the sexes.”

Strangely, I imagine that the promotion was intended to have the opposite effect.

I’m speaking of the general purpose behind any “ladies’ night” promotion: to encourage female bar attendance.

Is this to the exclusion of men?

Absolutely not.

It’s actually the other way around: bars try to increase their female patronage as an attraction to male patrons.

I think the implication as to why more women in bars attract more men should be obvious.

So you could say that the practice is indeed discriminatory, but more so against women than men, which is why the California Supreme Court originally ruled the practice unlawful in Koire.

Although, some would counter that the practice actually benefits the savvier woman who takes advantage of the discounts but rebuffs the guy trying his luck on ladies’ night.

It’s entirely possible that Frye was such a guy the fateful night he attended the Four Seasons Westlake Village.

After all, if he were such a guy and hadn’t been rejected, would he have been upset enough over the practice to sue?