Stephanie Burns threw a party for her company Chic CEO in April 2014, intending it to be a networking opportunity where women could mingle and discuss business over cocktails. Three men, Rich Allison, Allan Candelore, and Harry Crouch, appeared at the party, claiming they had paid $20 for the event and requested admission. Burns, informing them that the event was only for women, did not allow them enter.
Not only was the network mixer limited to women, but Burns did not feel comfortable with these specific men entering the party. In a video she posted on YouTube, she states that, “the men came uninvited, we were already over capacity, and I got that weird feeling in my stomach. So, I turned them away.” She later elucidates that she wanted to create a safe space for the other women at the event.
These men she turned away decided to file a lawsuit, accusing Burns and her company of discriminating against men. Unsurprisingly, they belong to the National Coalition for Men (NCFM)—one of the oldest men’s rights organizations.
However ridiculous this situation may appear, the legal basis for the lawsuit may be viable. In California, under the 1959 Unruh Civil Rights Act, discrimination based on race, sex, gender, age, or disability has been outlawed.
As Hannah Levintova writes for Mother Jones, “The NCFM members' lawsuit alleged that by holding a networking event marketed toward women, Burns and Chic CEO were in fact illegally discriminating against men.”
The NCFM website has a page committed to refuting Burns’s claims that she felt unsafe and had an inkling that the men did not intend to actually network at the party, alleging that her actions still amount to discrimination. They also state that women earn more money than men, which suggests how accurate the rest of their claims are.
However, because the laws outlined in the Unruh Act remain so broad, lawyers could argue on behalf of the NCFM members that they were, in fact, discriminated against due to their gender. At the same time, according to Mother Jones, “California courts have suggested that…[the] plaintiffs are exploiting the breadth of the Unruh Act to make money off settlements.”
It remains to be seen whether Allison, Candelore, and Crouch can make any real strides in this lawsuit, but this is not the first time they have sued based on discrimination: as Yahoo News reports, Candelore has been the plaintiff in 12 civil cases involving discrimination (Crouch was also a plaintiff in nine of these, and Allison in eight).
What a coincidence that these men have faced discrimination together so many times.
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