Alamo Drafthouse, a small movie theater chain known for its anti-texting stance and general coolness, scheduled a special women-only showing of the summer superhero film Wonder Woman. This seemed like a fun one-off idea, but the idea has met some resistance, particularly online. Now a law professor who specializes in employment discrimination and sexual orientation law is filing a complaint with the city, claiming that the showing may be violating the city’s own laws.
The professor lives and teaches in upstate New York, and the showing doesn’t directly affect him. He does specialize in anti-discrimination law, though, including sexual orientation law and employment discrimination, and something about the event didn’t seem right to him.
“If they were trying to do a gay-only Brokeback Mountain [showing], I would feel the same way,” the professor, who is gay, told the Austin American-Statesman.
In an interview with the Washington Post, he also drew a comparison to gay bars, where no one is banned at the door.
While the existence of the women-only event drew virulent responses, the professor notes that he took action in part because he had a problem with the way the theater was responding to complaints on social media, particularly Facebook.
“Their attitude was really off-putting to me,” he explained to the American-Statesman. He took issue with “the [theater’s] suggestion that anybody who pointed out to them that this was illegal was misogynistic or insecure.”
He also noted that the chain planned to have only female employees working at the event, which is an example of workplace discrimination.
While Alamo Drafthouse is holding events at its theaters across the country, there’s a problem specifically with holding it in Austin. The city code prohibits banning any group of people from “public accommodation,” which includes movie theaters.
The code lists “race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, or other factors.” Businesses also can’t advertise that certain types of people will or won’t be admitted. There’s no specific punishment, but cases could be prosecuted by the City Attorney if necessary.
The law professor in New York has submitted a complaint to the city online, and plans to follow up by mailing a written complaint.