Men’s rights activists are using an antidiscrimination law from the 1950s to kneecap women in tech events, Yahoo News’ Alyssa Bereznak reports.
Chic CEO, a website for female entrepreneurs, offers business advice to women and organizes networking events.
At one of these events last year, two men showed up, having paid the $20 registration fee on Chic CEO’s website. The men tried entering but were turned away.
The men, Allan Candelore and Rich Allison, filed a complaint with the National Coalition for Men president Harry Crouch.
“I have been a plaintiff in a number of discrimination lawsuits because I have been discriminated against a number of times,” Candelore, one of the defendants, told Yahoo News via email. “I am hoping for a day when everyone will be treated equally, discrimination will end, and I don’t have to file another discrimination lawsuit.”
Burns never received a warning that she had offended Candelore and Allison, but the costs from a potential lawsuit threatened to shutter her business. Sheeventually had to settle.
Candelore and Allison could file a lawsuit against Burns and her company thanks to a 1959 California antidiscrimination law called the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The law says all Californians are”free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation” can enter and participate in activities and events at all business establishments.
The antidiscrimination law is, in theory, in place to help minorities facing discrimination. To that end, it has been used to let a gay individual participate in the Boy Scouts, for instance, but now plaintiffs like Candelore and Allison, and lawyers like Alfred G. Rava, who has filed more than 100 complaints against California businesses on the basis of gender discrimination, are using it as a tactic to effectively shut down women’s organizations like Chic CEO.
In addition, Rava has served as a plaintiff in cases involving San Diego clubs that offer “ladies night” discounts to female patrons. In that case, Rava earned $125,000.
“There are so few of us in entrepreneurship and tech,” one female venture capitalist told Yahoo News. “It’s not fair to say it’s discrimination if we’re working to help a group that’s underrepresented,underestimated, and underappreciated.”
By comparison, women account for nearly 51% of the US population and 59% of the US labor force. Organizations like Chic CEO exist to help women get a leg up in fields where they are typically underrepresented.