Question: You talk a lot about empowerment, yet in court you
often present female clients as victims. Why?
Allred: I don't believe that women should have to suffer in silence
and I would say 99 percent of all or our cases no one has ever heard
of, no one ever will hear of. They will not be discussed publicly unless
and until they end up in a court of law. But most are settled
confidentially, so you'll never hear about them. Yes they will have to
describe what happened to them to the opposing party, and in a court of
law if it gets to trial, which most cases won't. But some decide to
speak out publicly and speaking out publicly helps them to be empowered
actually, in many cases.
And also it helps to inspire other women
to know that they can stand up and fight back. That they don't have to
be victimized. If they are victimized, that they can move on to the next
stage which is to become a survivor and then finally to the next stage
which is to be a fighter for change. So they can evolve and make others
accountable for the wrongs that have been inflicted upon them. It's
about accountability, it's about transparency, and it's about change.
It's about justice, most of all.
Question: How do you
decide whether or not the media will be a useful tool in your cases?
Allred: It really depends on the case. Sometimes it's, like, an
educational moment or opportunity, and sometimes it's strategic,
sometimes it's both. For example, we had a case years ago of AIDS
discrimination. Our client went... Paul Jasperson went to Jessica's Nail
Salon to get a pedicure. He made an appointment then they heard that
he had aids and they called and canceled it or that he was HIV positive
at the time. They canceled it.
And we fought them for 16 years,
we said: "That's discrimination." And my client spoke out and said, "I'm
not going to take this type of discrimination. It's wrong and it's also
illegal." And by doing so he let another businesses know that people
who are HIV-positive need to be treated with respect and dignity and
have a right to enjoy their rights, to be free of discrimination under
the law. That sends a message not only to Jessica's Nail Salon but other
businesses as well that you better watch yourself. That you might find
yourself on the wrong end of a law suit and being spoke of publicly if
you make the big mistake of discriminating.
So it's a teaching
moment, and I know that Paul was very happy that he did that. He was
never sorry that he did that, and even though he passed away at some
point we continued the battle even after his death
case-by-case analysis of what we're trying to accomplish in the case and
how best to accomplish it. There's no one general rule,
one-size-fits-all. It really depends on the case. As I said, most of the
time you'll never hear about most of my cases, and every once in a
while, for example, I'll get a call from the L.A. Times or someone else
saying, "We just found out that you filed this case. Nobody told us."
And they just find it but most of the time they will never know what
we're doing and that's the way it should be because what is best for the
client is what's most important.
Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman