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Quote of the Day - It's a beautiful thought (Mother's Day), but it's somebody with a hurting conscience that thought of the idea. - Will Rogers
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Does Mothers Day Tote Bag Giveaway Violate The Civil Rights Act?

The California Angels of Los Angeles And Anheim (or whatever their name is) Go To Court

Yes, I know it's been on the top of your mind, so let's get right to it. 

Michael Cohn and a couple of his buddies went to a Mother's Day game on May 4, 2006, when the Angels played Detriot.  Corinthian College sponsored a giveway tote bag in honor of Mother's Day.  Due to the crowds at the gates, the Angels decided to give the bag away to any female over 18.  They did not give the bag away to men, but did give it out to season ticket holders and the news media (male and female). 

Mike and his buds asked twice for the tote bags and were refused.  They left the game apparently suffering from emotional distress.  Truthfully, they just left the game.  I made up that last part about the emotional distress.  Still, they were dissatisified enough to engage counsel, who promptly wrote a letter to complain.

In response, the Angels sent Mike, his buds and Mike's attorney four tote bags.   Still not satisified, Mike sued.

Now you may be wondering how you could sue over a tote bag, so here's the long and short of it.  Mike and his buds claimed discrimination based on sex and age under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.  Here's the text of the act:  "'All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever."

Cohn relied on two cases where gender based price differentials violated the Unruh Act -- free admissions for "ladies' night" violates Unruh Act and where a car wash discount for women violates Unruh Act.  The Court wasn't buying Mike's complaint, however.  Justice Kathleen O'Leary wrote, "For the Angels game, women were charged the same amount for entry as men were on the date in question.  The tote bag simply represented a gift and did not discount the admission price."

"This important piece of legislation provides a safeguard against the many real harms that so often accompany discrimination," Judge O'Leary continued. "For this reason, it is imperative we not denigrate its power and efficacy by applying it to manufactured injuries such as those alleged by the plaintiff in this case."

"We see no reason to inhibit the Angels', or any other business's, ability to bestow gifts upon its customers.  Individuals are free to give to whomever they like.  Gift giving is not the same as usurping rights.  We therefore find the Angels' tote bag giveaway did not violate the Unruh Act."

Mike then pointed out that the following year, the Angel's Mother's Day giveaway went to both men and women.  Because the Angels changed their policy, Mike claimed he was the prevailing party and entitled to recover his attorneys fees and costs.  Again, the Court didn't buy it.  "We do not find the Angels' change in policy was for any reason other than avoiding another costly and irksome lawsuit and, therefore, find an attorney fees award improper," Justice O'Leary said, denying the claim.

In addition to their win over Mike and his buds, the Angels won over Detroit, 7-2.  Well, the Angels really only won against Detroit.  Mike sued Corinthian College, the tote-bag giveaway sponsor.

Mother's Day is safe in the world again.  Well, at least in California. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 13:52 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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