A disco bar in Mong Kok violated the Sex Discrimination Ordinance by charging male and female customers different admission fees, the District Court ruled Wednesday.
The plaintiff, a man surnamed Yiu, did not appear in court, Apple Daily reported.
Neither did the defendant, Legend World Asia Group Ltd., which operates the Club Legend disco bar in Mong Kok.
Yiu alleged that he patronized Club Legend on July 28, 2014, and paid an entrance fee of HK$300 (US$38.67).
He discovered that female customers were asked to pay only HK$120 each, yet the services and facilities enjoyed by the two sexes were the same.
Yiu later found on Club Legend’s website that male customers pay HK$80-HK$180 more than female customers, at different times during the week, Headline Daily reported.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the disco operator for unfavorable treatment because of his gender.
Yiu said he was frustrated by the disco operator’s insistence that it was a common practice to levy a lower fee for female customers and its refusal to reach a settlement via the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).
The plaintiff reportedly intended to request in court that the disco bar amend its entrance fees but later abandoned the idea.
The EOC has refused to reveal the compensation demanded by Yiu, saying that will be determined later by the court.
Hong Kong Bar and Club Association vice chairman Chin Chun-wing said the court ruling was ridiculous, as offering discounts to lure customers is how the industry operates.
Chin said many bars and discos, especially upstairs bars, have rolled out ladies’ night offers to female customers in an attempt to attract them and in turn attract more male customers.
The surge in rents in recent years has made life difficult for upstairs bars, he said.
But Chin admitted that ladies’ night offers have lost much of their appeal as female customers are more independent and have growing spending power.
Chin said 90 percent of bars charge a flat rate for men and women.
Some, with a customer base predominantly made up of middle-age women, even offer discounted prices to male customers.
Chin said the court ruling will have only a minimal impact on the industry and Yiu would not have won the case if the defendant had not been absent from the hearing.
To Miu-yue, secretary of a rights group for bars and karaoke operators, said ladies’ night offers have been around for about 10 years.
He said Yiu should bear some responsibility, as he was well aware of the fee structure before entering the disco and could have opted not to go in.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said the court ruled in favor of the claimant because the defendant was absent, but the legal issues have not been debated.
“It was like winning a football match with your opponents failing to show up,” Luk said.
“You have won, but it remains debatable whether you are technically better.”
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