Remember the excitement when Alamo Drafthouse announced it would be holding special screenings of Wonder Woman for women only? It turns out that was illegal under anti-discrimination laws which prevent excluding people by gender. From My Statesman:
Promoting female-only “Wonder Woman” screenings was a violation of Austin’s equality laws, the Alamo Drafthouse acknowledged in a letter to the city last month…
The city processed two formal complaints against the theater for the two female-only screenings in June, one from Albany, N.Y., law professor Stephen Clark and the other from an unidentified man, claiming sex discrimination. City equality laws ban a public accommodation such as a movie theater from limiting its service, or indicating through advertising that it will limit it, based on race, sex, sexual orientation or other factors…
City records indicate one of the men with a complaint pending offered to settle in exchange for the theater changing its discrimination policies and publicly apologizing on Facebook. The other complainant asked the Drafthouse to pay him $8,892 — roughly three times the estimated value of tickets and concessions for the women-only screenings.
In the letter it sent to the city, the Alamo Drafthouse argues that advertising the shows as “women only” and “No guys allowed” was done in a “tongue-in-cheek” way. The theater claims anyone could still have purchased a ticket and entered the theater for the showing, whether man or woman. However, the Drafthouse does admit that advertising the show as “women only” was a mistake saying, “Respondents did not realize that advertising a ‘women’s only’ screening was a violation of discrimination laws.”
Oops! Does ‘we didn’t know we were breaking the law’ count as an excuse? So far, the Alamo Drafthouse hasn’t paid up or apologized on Facebook for their mistake. Instead, the company has made a counter-offer: To update advertising policy to prevent future discrimination. To allow each complainant to write a letter which would be shared within the company. And a free copy of the Wonder Woman DVD.
Under Austin law, each complainant can accept or reject the settlement offer. If I were one of the complainants, I’d make a counter-offer. Instead of a DVD, ask for an upgrade to Blu-ray. And instead of a letter, which Drafthouse employees will just ignore, ask the company’s CEO to write “I will not illegally discriminate against men” 100 times on a sheet of paper and have the company share it on Facebook.