Ladies Night, a popular institution in the Garden State, might well be history as a result of a recent decision by New Jersey’s Director or Civil Rights who ruled that Ladies Nights (i.e. the practice of bars and restaurants giving discounts only to women) violates New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. The issue arose as a result of a male patron of a saloon in South Jersey lodging a formal complaint with the State Division of Civil Rights about having to pay a cover charge to get into a bar, while women did not have to pay anything.
For many years, bar owners have bolstered their weeknight business by hosting Ladies Nights and offering free admission, drink discounts or free drinks to women. One needs not qualify for membership in Mensa to see that these kinds of events attract women, which, in turn, attract men, and which, in turn, make money for the saloon owner. It works like a charm, because it’s basically a “birds and bees” thing.
In his decision, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the Director of Civil Rights, stated, “To interpret (the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination) to permit such ‘minor’ acts of discrimination would be to disregard its intended goal, which is nothing less than the eradication of the cancer of discrimination.” The decision aligns New Jersey with states such as California (surprise, surprise), New York, and Florida (Who knew?), which have come to similar legal conclusions.
Obviously, the bar owners hate the decision, and even our embarrassment of a Governor called the ruling “bureaucratic nonsense.” My guess is that Jersey guys also won’t like the ruling very much.
Whether one likes it or not, the decision is probably a correct interpretation of the state’s Law Against Discrimination. I wonder about how the women who regularly took advantage of Ladies Nights feel about the decision.
It would appear that equality sometimes comes with a cover charge.