Gloria Allred is easy to criticize, but just wait ‘til you need her

Attorney Gloria Allred holds a sign alluding to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner during a news conference on Tuesday in San Diego.
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a sign alluding to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner during a news conference on Tuesday in San Diego.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)
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Gloria Allred is back in the news and -- not that she gives a flying fig — but the haters are out in force.

They call her “ambulance chaser” and “publicity hound.”

They snicker that if a sex scandal is in the air, Allred will not be far behind.

They say they’re tired of seeing her face on the news, they roll their eyes at her rhetoric or her stunts. But guess what? When women feel they have been wronged, she is the person they turn to.

“I don’t reach out to women,” she told Politico last year. “They reach out to me.”


There’s a good reason for that.

For decades, Allred has been a consistent fighter for civil rights, a crusader whose focus on women and children has never flagged.

Here is the smallest list of some of the battles she’s waged:

  • She sued a hair salon for allegedly charging girls $12 and boys $10 for a haircut.
  • She sued a cleaners that apparently charged a woman $2.75 and a man $2.35 for the exact same shirt.
  • She sued a restaurant on behalf of a “humiliated” businesswoman who said she was given a menu with no prices, but whose male guest was apparently given a menu with prices.
  • She sued an Orange County school district when it would not let a female student become a cheerleader because it reportedly said her breasts were too large.
  • She sued a Los Angeles restaurant when it allegedly refused to allow a lesbian couple to sit in its “romantic” curtained booth.
  • She won $20,000 in a libel suit, plus a public apology from state Sen. John Schmitz, who described her in a press release as a “slick butch lawyeress.” (She is not a lesbian.)
  • She went to bat for a brain-damaged rape victim (who became pregnant and had an abortion as a result of the rape) after a judge said the victim could not collect $7.5 million in damages because the victim had not “suffered.”
  • She sued a “women’s only” health club on behalf of a man who said he’d been excluded from membership.
  • She sued a restaurant for banning men in tank tops while apparently allowing women in tank tops.
  • She sued a building supply company for allegedly forcing men to check bags at their door, while allowing women to carry their bags into the store.
  • She sued the Redondo Beach Police Department on behalf of a female police officer who said her colleagues physically threatened her.

And that, folks, was just in the 1980s.

Is she overexposed? Yes.

Has she ever made a mountain out of a molehill? Yes.

Does she go over the top? Sure. Last year, she asked the Palm Beach County state attorney to prosecute Rush Limbaugh on a misdemeanor charge after he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut.”

But she’s also helped sink two Republican candidacies in two years.

In 2010, she represented Meg Whitman’s former housekeeper, Nicki Diaz Santillan, revealing that Whitman employed a woman who had been in the country illegally for nine years.

In 2012, she represented Sharon Bialek, the woman who accused then-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment when he ran the National Restaurant Assn.


Of course, she’s had a hand in L’Affaire Weiner.

Lately, she’s been in San Diego, at the side of two of the 13 women who claim that Mayor Bob Filner made inappropriate sexual advances toward them. On behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former press secretary, she filed a lawsuit, the details of which I am sick of typing. See them here.

On Tuesday, at a press conference, she offered up Michelle Tyler, a nurse who claimed that when she sought out Filner for help with a wounded Iraq veteran named Katherine Ragazzino, she got a come on instead.

Why is she representing Tyler, who is not filing a lawsuit?

“The fact that we are not filing a lawsuit does not mean that there are no legal issues,” Allred told me.

Allred said she and the two women spent several hours Tuesday with San Diego County Sheriff’s investigators in the state attorney general’s office.

“If I can help to empower women who have been the victims of injustice by powerful men and want to speak out about what they have been forced to suffer, I will,” Allred said. “Michelle and Katherine sought my help. I have provided my advice and support.”


I admit, I rolled my eyes a little bit at her suggestion that San Diego City Hall put up a sign: “Danger! Warning to women. Mayor is in his office. Proceed at your own risk.”

But that’s just it, isn’t it?

It’s easy to roll your eyes now. But just wait ‘til you need her.


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