You’ve all heard of Ladies Night, the practice whereby bars let women in for free and offer them reduced priced drinks in the hopes of luring in men in who are required to pay a cover charge and buy full price drinks. The practice stinks for poor college-aged guys, but the lure of women under the the influence of all that cheap booze is just too tempting, so they go anyway. Such is the life of singles trying to meet that special someone, right? Bars taking advantage of overly hormonal guys couldn’t possibly constitute a violation of our constitution, could it?
Well think again. Google “ladies night lawsuits” and you will see page after page of cases from all over the country where “Ladies Night” has been challenged as discriminatory and unconstitutional. The most recent such case occurred right here in NY, where several bars in New York City were sued in federal court over their Ladies Night promotions. Lawyers for the bars argued that the lawsuit was frivolous, that as private entities the bars had the right to charge patrons whatever they choose, that the cover charge for men wasn’t so burdensome as to deprive them of entry, and that men actually benefited from the practice because so many women attend these ladies nights.
Federal Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum (a woman) threw out the lawsuit on the grounds that these private bars can charge their patrons whatever they wish, as they are not acting as representatives of the State. So common sense wins out, right? That’s the end of the story? Don’t be so sure. With so many cases from all over the country coming down on all sides of this issue, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Supreme Court considers this issue in the not too distant future.
And now on to the part you have been dying to read: was the Court right? Here’s my take. I agree with the judge’s decision. This is a trivial issue, and the bars should be able to do what they choose. That said, the decision is probably wrong. If the general principal of this case, that bars are allowed to charge different groups different prices for drinks, is allowed the stand, it clears the way for real discrimination. Take out men and women as the two groups involved in the suit and substitute some others. Would any court allow a bar to charge blacks more than whites? How about gays more than straights? What about Muslims more than Christians? No court would allow such blatant homophobia, racism or religious intolerance to stand, but this most recent decision clears the way for just such a practice. Expect this decision to be overturned for that reason.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Ladies Night is harmless fun, and it should be allowed to continue. The problem is that a quagmire lies at the bottom of this particular slippery slope.
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901