(CN) – A California appeals court refused to apply civil-rights legislation to a man’s claim that the Los Angeles Angels spurned men by not giving him a tote bag during a Mother’s Day stadium giveaway.
The freebies were handed out to all women over the age of 18 at a home game against the Detroit Tigers on Mother’s Day 2005. Spectator Michael Cohn had his lawyer send the team and the giveaway sponsor, Corinthian College, a letter bemoaning the fact that Cohn didn’t get a bag.
The Angels responded by sending him four bags: one for Cohn, one for his attorney and two for his friends.
But Cohn sued on principle, alleging gender discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
The 4th District Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment for the defendants, saying the Act targets intentional discrimination that’s “unreasonable, arbitrary or invidious.”
“This important piece of legislation provides a safeguard against the many real harms that so often accompany discrimination,” Justice O’Leary wrote. “For this reason, it is imperative we do not denigrate its power and efficacy by applying it to manufactured injuries such as those alleged by the plaintiff.”
The court also pointed out that the giveaway was based on motherhood, not gender. “It is a biological fact that only women can be mothers,” O’Leary wrote. “Neither men nor women are harmed by this, and the Angels did not arbitrarily create this difference.”
The justice summarily rejected Cohn’s citation of North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. Superior Court, in which a lesbian sued a medical group and two employees for allegedly failing to perform artificial insemination.
“We fail to see how the denial by a physician of medical services to a patient on the basis of sexual orientation is analogous to the denial of tote bags to men attending a sporting event.”