January 31st, 2003

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Gender discrimination

I went to Gameworks last night with Deborah. Kind of a celebration of my condo. While we were waiting in line, a Gameworks staff member walked the line telling everyone about their new policy. Thursday is Ladies Night and they pay only $10 for an All-Access pass. Men must pay $15 for an All-Access pass.

Which irritated me to no end. I asked to speak with a manager who insisted that it was not discrimination. We paid the prices they asked, and they kindly gave me a receipt that indicates that the reason for the price difference is Ladies Night. Evidence. Sweet.

Checked out the City of Seattle's Office of Civil Rights today. Under What is Discrimination the office gives the following definition:

  1. You are treated differently from others in a similar situation; and

  2. You are harmed by the treatment; and

  3. You are treated this way because of your membership in a protected class (i.e., race, gender, etc.)
    or

  4. Your request for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability is refused without a valid business reason.

Let's check these out: First item, definitely true. Deborah was charged $5 less than I was and we were in exactly the same situation, not just a similar situation. Second, I was harmed by the treatment. I paid $5 more for the privilege of using a public accommodation. Third, the reason I was treated differently was due to my gender. Within Seattle, the following groups are protected classes for cases involving public accommodation:
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Gender identity
  • Marital status
  • National Origin
  • Parental status
  • Political ideology
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Use of a Section 8 certificate
  • Use of a service animal

Looks like a classic case of discrimination, notwithstanding the managers protestations to the contrary. Luckily, it looks to me like the city of Seattle makes it really really easy to file a complaint. They don't take any enforcement action, but do issue a determination as to whether the facts support a reasonable cause for complaint. I can use that in court, or the City Attorney can take action in some instances.

Watch for further updates on this.

  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated
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Gender based pricing inequality links

BUSINESS: His and hers haircuts now one price
Article from the Palo Alto Weekly on a newly passed California law that attempted to eliminate gender based price discrimination, particularly the practices of charging more to launder women's blouses and cutting women's hair. From 1996.
FAIR HAIR CARE? KERRY CUT COST HALF OF HILLARY'S
Article from the Drudge Report lambasting a hair care salon for charging $75 to cut John Kerry's hair, half the cost that the salon charged Hillary Clinton. From 2002.
Survey's ammo for bill on gender-pricing
Two articles from the Tamba Tribune on the efforts to pass a bill that would outlaw gender based pricing discrimination. Article focuses primarily on pricing differences in haircuts, laundering, and tailoring.
Gender Pricing and Dry Cleaning and Laundering Ordinances (PDF)
Brochure from Miami Dade County, Florida on their pioneering ordinances requiring gender neutral pricing, except for Ladies Night promotions
MAYOR GIULIANI SIGNS CITY COUNCIL BILL NO. 804-A INTO LAW, PROHIBITING THE PUBLIC DISPLAY OF DISCRIMINATORY PRICING BASED ON GENDER
"While it should be noted that charging such prices based on gender is a form of discrimination already prohibited by the City's Human Rights Law, DCA now has mandated powers to collect fines from violators as a result of this law." The DCA is New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs. From 1997.
A REMINDER ABOUT FAIR PRICING POLICIES
The position of the International Fabricare Institute a trade association of laundering businesses.
Open Your Mind, Then Your Wallet
An article on the ability of businesses to charge different customers different prices, many of such practices being legal because they are not based on a protected class. Primarily focuses on the possible effects of the internet which might make differences in price offered to different people more or less visible. Notes in paragraph 5 a settlement between Victoria's Secret and the Federal Trade Commission in which Victories Secret agreed to stop sending different catalogs to men on their mailing lists than the women received. The catalogs for men had lower prices for the same articles of clothing. (Note to dangergirljones, under your reasoning this wouldn't have been discrimination because the women were just being offered a lesser discount than men were. The FTC disagreed with you.) Note, other articles detail that in the original lawsuit Katzman filed against Victoria's Secret, Katzman lost her case on the definition of the law she sued under. Katzman sued alleging that Victoria's Secret was a racketeering organization based on the pricing scheme of offering $25 discounts to men and $10 discounts to women. The courts rules that the practice did not qualify Victoria's Secret as a racketeering organization and therefore she could not use the RICO statute against them. Congress crafted the RICO statute to fight organized crime, but other groups have sued and prosecutors have charged non-mafia type businesses under it's provisions. Most notably, Operation Rescue lost much money as a racketeer influenced organization for it's activities in blocking abortion clinic access. After Katzman lost on the RICO grounds, the FTC took up the case.

More links to come later.

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More links on gender discrimination in pricing

Washington State NOW Gender Pricing Position Paper
From 1998, the position of the Washington State Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) on gender pricing. The paper notes that in some cases businesses charge women more than men, but that the bulk of pricing discrimination goes against women.
Women Taken to the Cleaners on Laundry, Hair Salon Prices
From the Capitol News Service in 1998. Similar to many of the other links I posted, this article notes that discrimination in pricing is illegal in Maryland. It further states that many businesses still get away with it by never posting their prices so that people are not aware of the price differential.
Say Goodbye to Ladies Night
Christopher Langdon sues several bars in Florida for promotions in which he was denied free drinks that were offered to women. From the article: Lawyers for Mark NeJame, who owned the Zuma Beach Club in Florida, argue that since men pay the same price for drinks on Ladies Night as they do any other night of the week, there is no price discrimination -- rather there is a special break for women, in return for which men get the benefit of additional women at the bar (and lets face it, the reason drinks are given free or cheap to women is largely to draw in more men as well).
“arbitrary” Discrimination: A Catchall?
An article on the Unruh Act, a California statute that the California Supreme Court ruled on in 1985. In Koire v. Metro Car Wash ([1985] 40 Cal.3d 24, 36), the California Supreme Court held that a car wash could not offer discounts to female customers on “Ladies Day,” and a bar could not offer free admission to females on “Ladies Night.”
Ladd v. Iowa West Racing Association
A decision by the Iowa Supreme Court holding that Charles Ladd may sue the Iowa West Racing Association for discrimination for denying him discounted prices offered to women on a Ladies Day promotion.
Honeymoon for Consumer Actions May Be Over
Article on a lawsuit against Wal-Mart which had offered a Ladies Day promotion for oil changes. Plaintiff had sued on a class-action basis, but was denied the class-action status. Appeals court upheld the denial, based partially on the fact that the man's claims might not be representative of a class due to the fact that Wal-Mart gave the discount to anyone who asked for it. The plaintiff had not asked for the women only promotion.
Maclean v. First Northwest Industries
This is the most interesting one so far. An appellate court held that the Sonics (officially known as First Northwest Industries in 1979) Ladies Night promotion violated the state Equal Rights Amendment. The plaintiff had lost a summary judgment motion. Maclean appealed that denial, and the appeals court held that as a matter of law, Maclean should win. There were no disputed facts. The case was a class action case, although I cannot find what the resulting penalties were against the Sonics. One key piece of the case was that the Sonics were operating under a lease from the City of Seattle, which brought the specter of government action into the case. I don't know if the case would have succeeded without this element. The court did hold that the Sonics violated the state ERA, but there might not have been a private right of action against a private entity. I am hosting the file to which the link points, as I could not provide a direct link to the original document. I found it by searching at Municipal Research & Services Center a service of the University of Washington, by searching for the term Maclean.
Emcee

Making friends and influencing people

Since this afternoon when I posted my note about Gameworks, three people have dropped me from their friends list. Not entirely certain that entry was why. But highly suspect. All three were male. How many more will decide they do not like me anymore when they get around to catching up on my journal?

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