A man has sued comedian Iliza Shlesinger, claiming her women-only comedy show, "Girls Night In," violates California law prohibiting discrimination based on sex.
The defendant, George St. George, claims he and a friend bought $30 tickets to a "Girls Night In" show November 13th at the Largo at the Coronet theater in Los Angeles. Upon arriving at the Largo, the pair were given tickets but allegedly told they would have to sit in the back. When they returned to the theater later for the start of the show, the suit alleges that a Largo employee told them that Shlesinger and the theater had decided that the two would not be allowed to enter and would be given refunds.
On the Largo website, Shlesinger's "Girls Night In" is described as "a hybrid stand up show and interactive discussion between Iliza and the women in the audience aimed at giving women a place to vent in a supportive, fun and inclusive environment. She invites women of all walks of life to come, laugh with her and at her and be ready to share and feel safe for an awesome night of comedy and love."
The suit, however, argues that the show – and its full title, "Girls Night In With Iliza – No Boys Allowed" – violates several California laws, including the Unruh Civil Rights Act. It also cites the 1985 Supreme Court case, Koire v. Metro Car Wash, which effectively banned so-called "ladies night" promotions. It even claims the treatment of St. George and his friend is akin to the injustices perpetrated during the Civil Rights Movement.
St. George, 21, has previously filed suits challenging "ladies nights" promotions. He is reportedly seeking "only the statutory damages" for violations of the Unruh Act.
"Mr. St. George and other men were prohibited from entering The Coronet Theater and taking in this comedy show solely because of their sex, which, unsurprisingly, violates several California anti-discrimination laws," Rava said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
"Since this is a legal matter, I'm unable to comment to the specifics of this lawsuit," Shlesinger tells Rolling Stone in a statement. "I will say that of the many shows I do throughout the year, Girls Night In was a singular evening that encouraged women to get together, talk and laugh about the things we go through as well as donate some money to Planned Parenthood. It's unfortunate that this has now become an issue."
Meanwhile, St. George's attorney, Alfred Rava, has reportedly filed 150 complaints against California businesses over Unruh violations. In an e-mail to Variety, Rava said, "At no time should an entertainer or an entertainment venue require female patrons or male patrons sit in the back of the theater based solely on their sex." Rava notably once served as secretary of the National Coalition for Men, a non-profit men's rights group that attempts to highlight, among other things, false rape accusations and the "myth" that men don't do their fare share of housework. Rava said he is no longer a member of the group.