After NCFM members were prevented from attending a Ladies Get Paid event, the men’s advocacy group sued LGP for gender discrimination. The lawsuit is the latest example of how the men’s rights activists have been strategically using the Unruh Civil Rights Act — a decades-old legislation named after Jesse Unruh, the Democratic politician and former speaker of the California Assembly—to target groups like Ladies Get Paid and more.
According to Mother Jones, for more than a decade, NCFM has filed over 150 gender discrimination lawsuits, some of which cited the Unruh Act, against numerous organizations—from startups to nights clubs. (In 2003, seven San Diego nightclubs paid NCFM a $125,000 settlement after they sued the clubs for “Ladies Night” and other woman-specific discounts.)
Ironically, the Unruh Act was created to protect the very people that NCFM is suing. Groups like Ladies Get Paid advocate for equal pay and diversity in a business landscape that is still male-dominated— where women hold only about 5% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Today, on average, a woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual income is $10,086 less than men’s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2016, The Harris Poll conducted a survey on behalf of Glassdoor Global to assess employee perceptions of the gender pay gap. Significantly fewer women (4%) than men (15%) say they negotiated their salary and got more money. And men consistently showed higher confidence around pay raises than women.
What’s worse, the gender wage gap has wider implications beyond money and statistics. It impedes women from reaching their full potential, thus leading to other negative consequences. The Harris Poll’s survey for Prudential’s State of Financial Wellness in America report shows that women are significantly more vulnerable financially, they feel more stressed by their financial situations and have fewer resources for financial information. This is exactly why organizations like Ladies Get Paid sprung up. “We feel strongly that women need their own space to connect,” Ladies Get Paid founder Claire Wasserman said.
The group has set up a crowdfunding campaign for the lawsuit.