'It's unfortunate that this has now become an issue'

By Nick Romano
December 28, 2017 at 11:30 AM EST
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UPDATE: In a statement to EW, Iliza Shlesinger is responding to the “unfortunate” lawsuit by George St. George, alleging the stand-up comic’s Girls Night In With Iliza — No Boys Allowed and the Los Angeles theater where it is being held are violating California laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex.

“Since this is a legal matter, I’m unable to comment to the specifics of this lawsuit,” the Last Comic Standing winner says in her 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.”

EARLIER: Iliza Shlesinger, a stand-up comic and winner of Last Comic Standing, found herself at the center of a gender discrimination lawsuit over her girls-only show, Girls Night In With Iliza — No Boys Allowed.

According to a complaint filed on behalf of George St. George, the plaintiff is suing Shlesinger and the theater for violating California state laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex.

Shlesinger performs her show at the Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, Calif. According to the 14-page complaint from attorney Alfred G. Rava, St. George purchased a $30 ticket for the Nov. 13 performance, while his guest purchased one for $25.

“Upon showing the will-call window’s female employee their proofs of purchase, this Theater employee paused for some time, and then told Mr. St. George and his male friend that the Theater would admit them to Defendants’ GIRLS NIGHT IN WITH ILIZA – NO BOYS ALLOWED show despite the fact that they were males, but that both of the men would have to sit in the back row of the Theater for the show because of their sex,” the complaint reads.

However, they apparently were both turned away when they later tried to enter the theater closer to showtime. Rava compares the instance to injustices perpetrated during the Civil Rights Movement and describes Shlesinger’s actions as a “war on men.”

As the attorney puts it, “Imagine the uproar, the protests, and the calls for a boycott by feminists and equal rights advocates if a Los Angeles theater, open to the public, in the year 2017, in the progressive state of California, and comedian Andrew Dice Clay, the bane of feminists, together had the temerity to organize, host, employ, book, put on, perform in, or at least aid a comedy show that threatened to prohibit and did prohibit women from entering the theater and from attending the show, brazenly advertising it as follows: Boys Night In With Andrew Dice Clay — No Girls Allowed.”

St. George is seeking compensation for costs incurred (including attorney fees), an order for Shlesinger to undergo “sensitivity training regarding sex discrimination,” an injunction barring the defendants from engaging in unequal treatment of customers, and “damages in amounts to be proven at trial.”

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Rava has filed gender discrimination lawsuits with male plaintiffs. Speaking with CNN in 2015, Rava said he filed 150 sex discrimination lawsuits against California businesses in the previous 12 years.

In May of 2006, the San Diego-based lawyer filed a class-action complaint against the Oakland A’s over a 2004 game during which women received free plaid hats but not men, according to documents filed with California Superior Court. The free hats were given out the day before Mother’s Day when the A’s partnered with Macy’s for a 5K run for breast cancer awareness.

Rava also served as secretary of the National Coalition for Men, a non-profit that looks at sex discrimination against men — including false rape accusations, fathers’ rights issues, and violence against men. Rava said he is no longer a member.

According to the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which Rava cites in the complaint against Shlesinger, “businesses may not discriminate in admittance, prices, or services offered to customers based on the customers’ sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Rava sued the Oakland A’s in 2009, though the complaint was filed in 2006. The story also stated the 2004 game in question was a Mother’s Day game, but it has since been updated on the insistence of Rava. 

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