By Ken Stone
Updated at 8:40 a.m. Dec. 30, 2017
Alfred Rava made news in 2003 when he and another man successfully sued Gaslamp Quarter bars after being denied “ladies night” discounts.
Seven area nightspots agreed to pay them $125,000, according to a Union-Tribune report.
Rava, a California Bar member since 1997 out of San Diego’s California Western School of Law, didn’t stop there.Using a California civil-rights law, he continued suing and collecting settlements — more than 150, according to published reports.
His latest target is Los Angeles comedian Iliza Shlesinger, whose Nov. 13 promotion — “Girls Night In With Iliza — No Boys Allowed” — drew his attention.
This time, he’s suing on behalf of a George St. George, who with an unnamed male friend paid $30 and $25 for tickets to Largo at the Coronet to see Shlesinger at the female-only event.
At first, they were promised a seat in the back row. But they eventually were denied entry — with the suit saying the former “Last Comic Standing” winner made the call.
Their complaint, filed Dec. 20 in Los Angeles Superior Court, likened the incident to a hypothetical Andrew Dice Clay concert where women are banned.
“For any business or any individual in the year 2017, in the progressive state of California, to provide or aid in providing accommodations, advantages, privileges, or services to only females as defendants did here, is as repugnant and unlawful as a business or an individual being involved in a ‘Caucasian Night’ or a ‘Heterosexual Night’ and providing admission, entertainment and other accommodations, advantages, privileges or services to only white or heterosexual patrons, respectively,” Rava said in his suit.
“Simply put, it is against many California laws for a business to discriminate against patrons based on their sex or other personal characteristics, such as race or sexual orientation, which should surprise no one.”
More than 800 news outlets worldwide note the suit and the comic’s “War on Men,” but little is said about St. George.
Times of San Diego phoned Rava on Friday and later exchanged email.
Rava, 61, would confirm only that St. George is not a San Diego County resident. The suit says he’s a California resident who is “over the age of 21.”
Asked where St. George lives, Rava declined to say. He suggested such info is closely held, asking: “What’s your pin number for your ATM?”
But Rava signaled St. George is a veteran of gender-bias fights.
“I have successfully represented Mr. St. George in earlier Unruh Civil Rights Act cases where California businesses discriminated against Mr. St. George and other men solely because of their sex,” he said via email.
“You can find some or all of these cases by searching the public databases for some of the Southern California Superior Court websites using Mr. St. George’s name as your search term.”
A writer/producer George St. George — with credits from the 1950s and 1960s — is in the Internet Movie Database. A “related news article” section of his profile links to several stories about the Shlesinger case.
The Writers Guild of America West didn’t immediately respond to questions about St. George. Rava on Saturday said the old movie writer isn’t his client.
Alfred Gerard Rava is more open about his own career.
He said he has a “100 percent” record of winning cases brought under the state’s Unruh act.
In every case, he says, the defendant “changed their tune” and avoided treating consumers unequally based on some personal aspect.
“I will take a wild guess that neither Iliza Shlesinger nor The Coronet Theater will ever against advertise, host, employ or perform at any show that prohibits men (or women or African-Americans or homosexuals or Jewish people) from attending based on a protected personal characteristic,” Rava said.
What’s his biggest monetary awards under Unruh?
“Almost all of these cases have settled via confidential settlement agreements,” he wrote, “so I can’t reveal settlement terms.”
San Diego Superior Court records show 23 Rava cases between 1998 and 2005 and none after. But he says he has filed a number of Unruh cases in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles County Superior Courts since 2005.
In 2009, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly hammered Rava over a 2004 lawsuit involving an Oakland A’s sun hat giveaway on Mother’s Day. Men were denied what Rava called “fishing hats,” but a settlement allowed them to collect $100 in cash and goods.
Reilly called Rava “as odorous as a bag of dyspeptic hamsters. He’s a greasy manipulator who has found a small leak in American law and stuck an open wallet under it.”
Rava sent the judge’s ruling in the Oakland case — “wherein he denied both defendants’ motions for summary judgment, which prompted the defendants to settle that case.”
And the ESPN critic?
“Rick Reilly is now an unemployed sportswriter,” Rava said. (The former Sports Illustrated writer retired as an ESPN.com columnist in 2014, saying he would just do TV features.)
On Friday, TMZ posted video of roastmaster Jeff Ross calling St. George a pussy and asshole for bringing the suit.
“If Iliza wants a women’s (only) show, I think she has a right to,” Ross said. “Aren’t there more important things for this guy to worry about?”
A TMZ video also showed standup comedian Dave Chappelle’s comment on the St. George suit: “I think people are f—g crazy.”
Rava’s response: “What can I say? Much of Hollywood also opined that Hillary Clinton would be our 45th president.”
Rava has been associated with the nonprofit and San Diego-based National Coalition for Men — as secretary and board member — but has represented women. (Its website was down, but Facebook account is active.)
He says he’s had “many” female clients and notable wins — all in Unruh Act sex discrimination cases.
“But all were resolved with confidential settlement agreements, so I can’t reveal the settlement terms,” he said. “The defendants in these cases involving female plaintiffs stopped treating their patrons unequally based on their sex after I filed these lawsuits.”
His take on the #MeToo movement?
“I find it interesting that it was prompted by alleged sexual assaults or sexual harassment by prominent liberals such as huge Democratic Party fundraiser and Clinton and Obama buddy Harvey Weinstein, and soon-to-be former U.S. Senator Al Franken,” he said.
Rava’s advice to men accused of sex harassment, such as San Diego labor leader Mickey Kasparian?
“I’m not the attorney for any men or women accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “so I don’t want to give them or any other nonclients any legal advice.”
About the same time he and associate Steven Surrey were prevailing against Gaslamp Quarter “ladies night” promotions, Rava and Surrey were going to bat against the San Diego Padres.
“It was about a Women and Baseball Clinic held by the Padres on July 5, 2003, that men were not allowed to attend,” he said. “After this lawsuit was filed, the Padres never again held another no-males-allowed baseball clinic. Again, the settlement terms were and remain confidential.”
The current St. George case may prove to be another notch in his belt.
And Rava has a warning: “If you’re a California business thinking about unlawfully prohibiting men or women into your business establishment, charging male and female patrons different prices for the same exact thing based solely on their sex, or otherwise unlawfully treating male and female consumers unequally based solely on their sex — please don’t do it.
“It’s morally and legally wrong.”
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