HSG client, The Consumer Federation of California, sponsored bill to end gender discrimination in product pricing passed off the Senate Floor today.
LA Times |PATRICK MCGREEVY
The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit businesses in California from charging customers different prices for similar goods on the basis of gender.
State Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the author of the bill, cited the example of two substantially similar disposable razors sold by the same company. A package of 12 blue razors marketed for men cost $7.99. A package of 12 pink razors for women sold in the same store for $12.99.
“We understand that women already earn less income. Why are we charging them more for essential products that they need in their everyday lives?” Hueso said during the floor debate. “This bill would prohibit the sale of goods on the basis of discrimination to women or men.”
He also cited a 2015 study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs that looked at a wide variety of products, including toys and clothing, which found that women’s products cost more 42% of the time while men’s products cost more 18% percent of the time.
California has, for two decades, protected consumers against gender price discrimination in the service industry.
Hueso’s bill would allow consumers to challenge different prices by the same brand for similar or identical products .
But it allows price differences based specifically on the labor, materials, taxes or other gender-neutral reasons.
Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) joined most Republicans in opposing the bill, predicting it would lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits that could drive small retailers out of business. He said consumers and the marketplace will weed out unfair pricing.
“I don’t think we need to have a pricing police going into retail shops,” Moorlach said. “I see it as a nightmare for retailers.”
State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) brought up an example in which one company sells a red boy’s scooter for $29.99 and a pink girl’s scooter for $49.99.
Other lawmakers joked about consumers saving money by using a product marketed to the opposite sex.
“Members, sex discrimination isnt a joke,” responded state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley). “It’s a reality that women have been living with for centuries.”
The bill goes to the Assembly for consideration.