'Ladies' Night' Lawsuits on the Rocks?

Legal analysts say Hollander's claim may be difficult to prove. He will have to demonstrate that there is a genuine constitutional issue. In court papers, he cites a 1970 case against a bar called McSorley's Old Ale House. The ruling in the case struck down a policy excluding women, claiming it violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

Club owners maintain that Ladies' Night is not a policy of exclusion, but rather an economic enticement to increase business and satisfy their customers. They say the marketplace dictates whether the promotions are abandoned, not the courts.

"Ladies' Night benefits the men as much as it benefits the ladies, the clubs and society," said John Juliano, owner of the recently closed Copacabana Nightclub. "And the only loser here is this grouch with a warped point of view."

But, Hollander said these perks do not justify discriminatory prices because the same beneficial end could be achieved by charging men less or equal to the amount women are charged.

"Each guy that walks into that club will have more money to buy her a drink, and the more she drinks, the more fun she and the guys will have," he said.

Ladies' Night Lawsuits

The recent slew of Ladies' Night lawsuits dates back to a 1972 case against the New York Yankees. A lot fewer women were going to games than men. The Yankees gave discounts on special "Ladies" games. An angry male fan sued and a court ruled the practice was illegal.

The Seattle Sonics basketball team was also sued in 1981 by a man who alleged discrimination because he was forced to pay full price for a ticket while his wife paid half. In that case the court ruled that the purpose of the promotion was "not to exclude anyone but to encourage attendance."

In recent years, Ladies' Night promotions have been the subject of litigation in California, New Jersey and New York, where the state-level courts consistently have ruled against Ladies' Night promotions.

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