Ladies Get Drinks — not you, man

Marine's lawsuit says exclusion from women's-only event "repugnant"

Event invitation seemed pretty straightforward
  • Event invitation seemed pretty straightforward

A retired United States Marine captain is suing a restaurant in Mission Hills for hosting a ladies and non-binary-only party and for refusing to allow him access or give him drink specials that the attendees were offered.

The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar

741 W. Washington Street, Mission Hills

Rich Allison says he registered to attend a "Ladies Get Drinks" event at the Red Door hosted by Ladies Get Paid, an advocacy group that fights for equal pay and treatment for women based in New York City. Allison registered, says the lawsuit, despite not being "a female-identifying, non-binary folk, but instead...a heterosexual male and retired U.S. Marine Corps captain."

Two days later, on the day of the event, Allison entered the restaurant located on Washington Street in Mission Hills. A bartender stopped him and told him he wasn't allowed in. Allison showed him his registration pamphlet but the bartender blocked access.

Adds the lawsuit, "Mr. Allison was kicked out of Defendant’s Ladies Get Drinks event because of his sex, that is, because he was a male, and not a female, female-identifying, non-binary folk. Defendants did indeed make it sorry for guys that evening by not allowing men, solely based on their sex, to attend this Ladies Get Drinks event..."

Allison then went to a side door and entered the bar area. A bartender there allowed him to drink. He was not, however, given the same drink specials that the attendees had been offered. Allison's lawsuit says by denying him the same specials, Red Door's owner and Ladies Get Paid essentially charged him a "man tax."

"For a business operating in the progressive state of California, in the year 2017, to provide accommodations, advantages, privileges, or services to only female patrons, is as repugnant and unlawful as businesses being involved in a ‘Caucasian Night’ or a ‘Heterosexual Night’ and denying admission and discounted drinks and other accommodations, advantages, privileges, or services to patrons of color or to gay or lesbian patrons, respectively."

The lawsuit was filed by Point Loma–based attorney Alfred Rava. In 2009 Rava made headlines when he sued the Oakland Athletics baseball team for refusing to give him a plaid reversible bucket hat that women were given as part of a Mother's Day giveaway.

In Allison's case, Rava writes in the lawsuit that the ladies and non-binary-only event flies in the face of the work that women and others have done to gain an equal footing. "Defendants’ no-men-allowed Ladies Get Drinks event repudiated hundreds of years of women’s struggles to be viewed as being equal to men and is typical of old-fashioned sexism that might also advise a young woman that her best chance for a happy life is to ace her home economics class and learn how to make queso from Velveeta to catch a good man."

UPDATE 12:50 p.m., 10/7

After publication, Red Door owner Trish Watlington sent this response:

"As a small family business who has spent thousands of hours and dollars in service to all segments of our community, we are obviously distressed about these allegations. The Red Door does not endorse, nor have we ever endorsed, discrimination of any kind. At no time was I, or any member of the The Red Door team, aware this was a public event nor did I know that the group would market it exclusively to women. We are investigating the allegations that were made. To date we have not found any corroboration that the plaintiff actually visited The Red Door or Bar by Red Door as alleged in the complaint.”

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Once the personal attacks start, Mr. Frye, my interest in engaging disappears because it is a sign of a closed mind.

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