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CA Lawsuits Target Disparity in Service Pricing for Men and Women

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

Have you ever noticed that some kinds of businesses charge women more for the same services as men? California lawmakers noticed this a while ago and called for an end to the gender discrimination in pricing for haircuts and other services in 1995.

But the disparity in prices for men and women receiving the same services persists in some places, which is why one woman is suing salons and dry cleaning businesses in Riverside, California. There have been about 11 lawsuits filed since April, the Press Enterprise reports.

Cost of a Cut

In 1995, California passed a law that eliminates disparities in pricing for the same services provided to different genders. But nothing in the law prohibits price differences based specifically on the amount of time, difficulty, or cost of providing the services.

So, if a salon only charges ten dollars for a 5-minute buzz cut but wants 50 bucks for a layered look done on long hair, the latter cut's higher price can be justified by the difference in time and difficulty between the two cuts. However, if a salon has a blanket policy that charges women more for a cut than men, then that is illegal under California's law.

One of the recently filed lawsuits in Riverside alleges that a local salon charges women $8 more for haircuts than it does men. The plaintiff is seeking $25,000 in damages. But the defendant salon owner, not named in the Press Enterprise report, said the difference is based on difficulty and not gender.

A Shakedown?

The defendants in these cases claim that the plaintiff is not concerned about price disparities between services for the genders. Rather, they say, this is a shakedown by plaintiff's counsel, targeting immigrant businesses in the hopes that they will settle the claims quickly.

According to Rosa Elena Sahagun, a local attorney who does not represent the defendants but organized a protest among them, "My opinion is that he perceived this sector of the community as an easy target. My opinion is that he thought these small businesses, immigrant-owned businesses, were not going to have the knowledge or resources to fight."


If you are concerned about local laws on pricing or any other aspect of your business, talk to a lawyer. Get guidance and make sure you are doing the right thing.

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