New Campaign Hopes To Stop Illegal Gender-Based Pricing That Costs Women More

Jul 1, 2016
Originally published on July 1, 2016 9:45 am

The Attorney General's office and the Vermont Human Rights Commission have launched a public education campaign to alert consumers and businesses about the existence of gender-based pricing for goods and services in the state.

They say this type of activity is clearly against the law in Vermont.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards cited numerous examples of gender based pricing.

At one retail outlet, a pair of pajamas for men cost $69 while the same item for women was priced at $95.

At one business, a man's raincoat was priced at $30 while the same coat in the women's section cost $50.

In another example, the cost of dry cleaning a women's blouse was twice as much as a man's shirt.

The groups also highlighted cases where women pay considerably more for hair cuts and hair treatments than men.

Richards is hoping that the upcoming campaign will alert all Vermont businesses about their pricing decisions.

"So that they can evaluate them and determine whether or not they have a legitimate reason that isn't related to gender for the way that they have their goods and or services priced," she explained.

And Richards also wants to get the word out to women about this issue.

"So that when they are shopping they can look for these price differentials and purchase the lesser costing product if it's exactly the same thing but just happens to being marketed to men," Richards said.

Attorney General Sorrell says businesses need to realize that making pricing decisions based on a person's gender is against the law.

"Unless the manufacturer or the retailer can show that there's a real difference in materials in the nature of the product, the delivery from the product, then it's just unlawful to charge higher rates for the products for women than men," Sorrell said.

Sorrell says his goal is to resolve these pricing issues through voluntary action by the businesses, but he says he'll enforce the law if he needs to.

"We'll take action, we'll make some examples and we'll get even more compliance, but we would much prefer not to have to," Sorrell said. "Both our office and the Human Rights Commission would like to avoid the need to file enforcement actions."

Sorrell says he's also concerned that gender pricing exists in the sale of new and used cars and in many automotive repair services.

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