Bill Calling For Price Equity For Items Marketed To Females Fails

by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

hair care display in a storeLegislation prohibiting stores in California from charging more for products intended for females than for substantially similar items aimed at males has been scuttled in an Assembly committee under opposition from business groups.

The bill, SB899 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Logan Heights (San Diego County), cleared the state Senate last month on a 22-12 vote, mostly along party lines. But Hueso withdrew the bill Tuesday after fellow Democrats in the Assembly Judiciary Committee insisted on amendments that would have severely weakened it, said the Consumer Federation of California, the chief sponsor of the legislation.

State law has prohibited sex discrimination by businesses since 1959 but it hasn’t been applied to disparities in pricing. A 1995 law banned price discrimination in services, like haircuts and dry cleaning, but didn’t cover consumer products.

At a state Senate committee hearing, one lawmaker said he had seen a blue package of 12 Gillette Sensor disposable razors selling for $7.99 at a major retailer, while a dozen pink Gillette Daisy razors for women were priced at $12.99. Anther lawmaker said she bought her granddaughter a red scooter marketed for boys because the pink one cost $20 more.

A study in December by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, based largely on prices charged by nationwide retail chains, found that women paid higher prices than men 42 percent of the time for products with similar materials and general appearance, while men paid more 18 percent of the time.

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