MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has found probable cause to believe that five Twin Cities drinking establishments violated state law by staging "Ladies Night" promotions, where female customers are offered free drinks or discounts, and male customers are not.
Department investigators found that the establishments, which at this point are unnamed, had engaged in gender discrimination by denying men the right to the 'full and equal enjoyment of the goods of a place of public accommodation, because of sex.'
"It is the Department of Human Rights' position that ladies' night is illegal. Gender-based pricing violates the Human Rights Act," said Commissioner James Kirkpatrick.
The department notes that although 'ladies night' and similar promotions may be popular and attract both female 'and' male customers, the Minnesota Human Rights Act does not provide a profit-making exemption to the public accommodations provisions of the Act.
The ruling also reasons that bars and restaurants have other, non-discriminatory options for increasing business through promotions that do not target gender.
The department will not name the five establishments until their cases are concluded. "We are in our process, and these are not closed cases," Kirkpatrick explained. Under the Minnesota Human Right Act, the names of charging parties and respondents are private or nonpublic data until a case is closed.
The MN Department of Human Rights may seek financial penalties or other relief for the charging party, and work to ensure that practices found to be discriminatory are ended. Penalties will likely be determined through a negotiated settlement. The Department may also choose to take a respondent to court.
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