Maryland Man Sues Firing Range for 'Reverse Sexism'

Derrick Hunter sues his local firing range for charging women less.

Aug. 24, 2012 -- One Monday last October, Derrick Hunter decided to go shooting at the Maryland Small Arms Range in Upper Marlboro, his local firing range. He paid the $15 entry fee, and went inside.

And that's when the metaphorical bullets started to fly.

According to Hunter, 34, a special police officer, two women walked in behind him. Since it was "Ladies' Day," a longtime staple at the club, a manager told them they didn't have to pay.

Hunter heard the exchange, and asked if he could use the range for free too. "He said, 'It's Ladies' Day and you don't meet that criteria,'" he told ABC News. He accuses the firing range of "reverse sexism."

"Any time you get any kind of discrimination it does hit home to a certain extent," he said. "I have children. If don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. Sooner or later you have to stand up for your rights."

Hunter complained to the Human Relations Commission of Prince George's County, which reviews cases of discrimination. In August, it concluded that the case had merit. Last week, Hunter filed a $200,000 lawsuit against the firing range.

Carl Roy, president of the gun range, said he doesn't think he is doing anything illegal by letting in women for free.

"It's a governmental micro-managing society," he said. "If you read the county ordinance, they are narrowly construing discrimination to mean if you give a discount to somebody, then you got to give it to everyone. But no one is saying anything about age discrimination. They're not saying anything about occupational discrimination, or JC Penney giving free haircuts to children for the month of August."

Hunter's lawyer, Jimmy A. Bell, sees it differently. "If someone said because you were Jewish you'd have to pay more money, what would you think about that?" he said. "People don't look at it like that. People think a man should have to take it. And that's now how the law works."

As it happens, attorney Bell is no stranger to discrimination suits. In 2010 he sued a nail salon after he shelled out $4 more for a manicure/pedicure than women were charged.

He eventually settled with the salon for an undisclosed amount. But last year, he sued another nail salon, Nail First, on Hunter's behalf. Hunter didn't win any money, but the court issued a permanent injunction against the salon.

This time that would not be enough, said Bell.

"It's obvious that an injunction doesn't work," he said. "You've got to look at a person's dignity. When someone tells you that based on who you are, your physical characteristics, that you have less value to them than someone else, that stings a lot of people. It's illegal in our state. And it's been illegal since 1986."

"The special court of appeals outlawed gender discrimination and ladies' night activities in 1986," he said. "You can't offer one benefit to one group and not to the other group based on sex."

Brian Heller, a partner at Schwartz and Perry, an employment discrimination law firm in New York City, said the case is an interesting one. "On the one hand, the question is, are they treating men worse? Or are they treating women preferably?" said Heller. "And if they are treating women preferably, is there a legitimate business reason to do so?

"It's ultimately going to have to come down to a jury looking at the facts and making a decision as to what the intent was," he said. "The range could argue that there's a good reason to attract women members, and that they're not treating men badly but that they're encouraging women to sign up."