Malibu Welcomes Gloria Allred

0
343
Civil rights attorney and author of “Fight Back and Win, My Thirty-Year Fight Against Injustice,” Gloria Allred, backstage at the sold out Feb. 15 Malibu Library Speaker Series event.

Firebrand and well-known attorney Gloria Allred packed the house last Wednesday night for a Malibu Library Speaker Series held at City Hall. The large crowd, which appeared to be supporters of the sometimes controversial Allred, started lining up early to see and hear the woman who’s been making headlines and representing those in the headlines for more than 30 years.

As a founding partner of her law firm Allred, Maroko and Goldberg, Allred has been in the national spotlight for more than three decades with her involvement in precedent setting and high-profile cases. She claims her firm has won a quarter-of-a-billion dollars for clients in sexual harassment lawsuits.

The 75-year-old, who looks at least 10 years younger, calls herself an advocate for women’s rights. She recalled a painful chapter in her life that inspired her career in law fighting for equality. In 1966, during a vacation in Mexico, the young mother of one was raped at gunpoint. Discovering the crime left her pregnant, she sought an abortion — which was illegal for doctors to perform at the time. After having the procedure she says she nearly bled to death and became infected. Recovering from a hospitalization, she soon went to law school and became a member of the State Bar of California to pursue what she calls her “passion for justice.” 

Allred recalled one of the first cases that put her on map, her 1987 discrimination case against the all-male Friars’ Club. She called private clubs “palaces of power that guard their members, excluding women, depriving us to do business as men are able to.” Although the Friars’ Club is made up of mostly comedians, Allred said, “I didn’t find their exclusionary policy funny.” Milton Berle at the time asked Allred to become an honorary member, but she declined, saying, “Why would I want to be a member of a club that discriminates against women?” Allred won her suit and became the first woman member of the club.

Since then it seems Allred has become the “go-to” attorney in cases involving gender and discrimination. TV news is filled with images of Allred holding press conferences as the representing attorney against some high-profile people including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Bill Cosby and scores of others. She is currently involved in a defamation suit against President Donald Trump who called her client Summer Zervos a liar regarding Zervos’ accusations of sexually inappropriate conduct. Allred said Zervos passed a polygraph test, but added the suit will likely be postponed while Trump is in office. Allred earlier successfully represented a transgender woman who was kicked out of a Trump beauty contest and subsequently allowed to compete.

Allred also mentioned her work in the landmark case of actress Hunter Tylo who, 20 years ago, was fired from her sexy role on the TV show “Melrose Place” after announcing her pregnancy. Tylo sued on grounds of discrimination claiming she was let go due to the change in her appearance. She won the case and nearly $5 million. 

“That should not be a reason to exclude a woman from a job on television or anywhere else,” Allred told the audience.

Calling herself a “relentless son-of-a-gun,” Allred champions many causes that are not about celebrities. She said she was one of the first to represent victims of sexual abuse at Catholic churches, fought against Holocaust deniers and even dry cleaners and hair stylists that charge more for women customers.

 While taking questions from the audience Allred, who proudly labels herself a feminist, called Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg her “she-ro.” Replying to an audience member who said, “God bless you,” she quipped, “I’m sure she will.” When asked what she’d like her legacy to be, the woman — who has never shied away from a microphone — answered, “Hopefully, that everyone will understand that we have to stand up and demand equal rights, equal respect and equal dignity for women and minorities. It’s as simple as that. And we have to take action to win that.”

Allred, who has owned a beachfront home in Malibu for eight years, was also asked by The Malibu Times what she loves about living here. 

“Everything,” Allred replied. “I don’t take vacations. But, I consider when I drive to Malibu on a weekend — that’s my vacation, even though I’m working all the time when I’m here on a weekend. But I love it and there’s no better place to be. I’m privileged to be able to be here.”

An earlier version of this story in the print edition of The Malibu Times included an editor’s factual error that has been corrected in the online edition.