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It's Ladies Night (In Court) for the Fresno Grizzlies

By Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated on

Ladies' Night might be a bit antiquated as far as promotions go. But is it illegal discrimination?

The Fresno Grizzlies, a minor-league low-A baseball team now affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, would like to know. They are facing a $5 million lawsuit over a "Ladies Night" promotion that offered free admission to female fans.

Two fans are suing, claiming the promotion was gender discrimination and violated California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. One plaintiff, Harry Crouch, is the President of the National Coalition for Men, an advocacy group that addresses discrimination against men and boys.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Alfred Rava, has a history of bringing similar claims. Two examples include a notable $500,000 settlement with the Oakland A's for a Mother's Day promotion and a lawsuit against comic Iliza Shlesinger for a "no boys allowed" show. Most of the lawsuits Rava has filed ended in confidential settlements.

Gender Discrimination Is Gender Discrimination

The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of any protected class, including race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. By allowing some fans in for free based on gender, the Grizzlies most likely violated the law.

Is that what the Unruh Civil Rights Act intended? Perhaps not. However, several California businesses have been successfully sued based on similar claims.

While some have argued that "Ladies Night" and similar promotions may be a technical violation of the law, lawsuits against such businesses do not address any significant underlying harm and are more about money and attention. But Rava and his clients argue that the lawsuit is not frivolous and that Ladies' Night promotions unfairly target men and sexualize women.

The defendants include the Grizzlies' current and former owners, Minor League Baseball, Inc., and other associated parties.

Amateur Night in Marketing?

The Grizzlies have had a history of controversial promotions, including a Memorial Day tribute video in 2019 that labeled U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an "enemy of the people" and a fatal incident that same year during a taco-eating contest.

The outcome of the current lawsuit remains to be seen, but perhaps the Grizzlies should stick to dollar dog nights like other ballparks? Unless they're playing a team from Philly, anyway.

Maybe we can just all watch the game.

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