Are “Ladies’ Nights” Discriminatory?

A New York attorney has filed a class action lawsuit against several Manhattan nightclubs, alleging that by hosting “ladies nights” they are engaged in unlawful gender discrimination. He is seeking a declaratory judgment that the nightclub policies in question constituted “state action” due to their regulation by the state Alcoholic Beverage Division. Such a finding would be necessary for the nightclubs to be liable under Section 1983.

He is looking to the case of Seidenberg and DeCrow v. McSorleys’ Old Ale House, Inc., 317 F.Supp 593, as precedent for finding the existence of “state action” by bars and nightclubs. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where Hollander has filed his complaint, ruled in 1970 that state action existed when McSorleys’ Old Ale House refused to serve two women.

Hollander also foresees an “uphill battle” in classifying the action as invidious discrimination, since he is arguing on behalf of men and not women, whom he says the U.S. Supreme Court has given “preferential treatment for past invidious, economic discrimination.”

“Whether this case succeeds or fails,” says Hollander, “it will result in a much needed victory for men.” . . .

Hollander is seeking to be named class representative for all men charged more money or burdened by stricter time restraints than women at these clubs over the last three years. He has as evidence e-mail advertisements for promotions held on the nights he attended these clubs and according to Hollander, these e-mails advertise discriminatory admittance policies for men versus women. The case seeks an injunction to end these policies.

The general manager for one of the nightclubs being sued labeled the suit “ridiculous.”