Attorney claims gender bias at San Gennaro Feast

Civil rights attorney Todd Phillips says he's not trying to spoil the party.

He just wants the operators of the San Gennaro Feast, which got under way Tuesday at the Silverton Casino, to obey the state's gender discrimination laws.

That's why he says he filed a complaint against the festival's operators with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission.

Phillips is upset with two promotions this week -- one on Tuesday allowing "moms" to go on all carnival rides for free and one on Thursday letting "dads ride free." It normally costs $25 for a daily ride pass.

"When they let moms ride free, they discriminate against men, and when they let dads ride free, they discriminate against women," Phillips said.

If the festival had offered a promotion allowing parents to ride free, Phillips explained, there would have been no discrimination and he would not have filed a complaint.

Phillips, it turns out, not only has a history of confrontation with the San Gennaro Feast but also has a track record with the Equal Rights Commission.

A sex discrimination complaint he filed over a "women enroll free" promotion at Las Vegas Athletic Clubs led the commission in December 2008 to order the clubs to stop the promotion or make the same offer to men.

Last year, Phillips complained about the "moms ride free" promotion at the San Gennaro Feast, and the festival's chief executive, Anthony Palmisano, allowed him to ride free that night.

Palmisano said he offered the "dads ride free" promotion this year as a result of the encounter with Phillips. He thought that would take care of the problem.

He thought wrong.

Phillips, who lives in Las Vegas but practices law in California, said Palmisano just compounded the problem this year.

"It's double discrimination," Phillips said. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Palmisano, however, doesn't share that opinion.

"In this economy, we're fighting for moms and dads to come out and have a good time with their families," he said. "This feast has a great impact on the community."

Palmisano accused Phillips of harassing the festival.

"He keeps calling us constantly," Palmisano said. "He's a petty piece of garbage."

Dennis Perea, the Equal Rights Commission's administrator, could not be reached for comment.

But Phillips said he expects the commission to hold a hearing on his complaint.

His goal is to get an order from the commission prohibiting the San Gennaro Feast from offering sex-based discounts in the future.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal. com or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at