I am not a lawyer, but lately I've been called upon to play one when visiting local watering holes -- as a member of the bar, so to speak. The owners of these locales all want to know one thing: Can they hold a ladies' night?
I've developed an unwanted expertise on the subject, ever since Steve Horner started filing his complaints against Westword advertising, and my coverage of his complaints about Westword advertising, charging that I've discriminated against him. So when asked about the legality of ladies' night, my answer has been a standard: "Who the hell knows? Just make sure if you make a special offer to anyone, you extend it to everyone." That's the tactic the Colorado Rockies adopted after Horner complained about a ladies' day promotion at the ballpark.
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But in the amended determination regarding a complaint that Horner had filed against Westword a year ago, issued just last week, the Colorado Division of Civil Rights offers some guidance for local bars. And yesterday,when I was wetting my whistle after a Montana road trip (during which Horner filled my voicemail with his rants about the division), bartenders were asking all about it.
Looks like the most recent development could be good news for small businesses that want to include ladies' nights in the portfolio of promotions they use to attract customers.
Turns out an investigator with the Division of Civil Rights actually spoke with the manager of the bar that had advertised the ladies' night deal in Westword that so offended Horner in summer 2008, and was told "the purpose was to attract men by enticing additional women to frequent the business," the division letter noted. "The same services and privileges were provided to members of both genders. Thus, the evidence indicates that the purpose of the promotion was not only to encourage women to frequent the establishment, but by doing so, to attract more men. Thus, the promotion was not discriminatory."