Social Issues Women's Rights

Illinois passes law that prohibits companies from gender based price discrimination

SPRINGFIELD, Il. – Companies in Illinois are no longer allowed to charge women more than men for services such as dry cleaning and salon appointments. Legislation that increases transparency in pricing among some service providers and exposes gender-based price discrimination has been signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said most folks assume that this type of discrimination would have disappeared by now, but it hasn’t. She said women have long been charged more for certain services – which doesn’t make it right.

“Women pay more for dry cleaning, and you’ll also see it in some hair salons, where women will pay more for the same services, and tailors,” she said. “So, it’s just trying to make sure that women do know what the prices are, so that they can ask, ‘Is there a reason for a price difference?’ “

Bush sponsored Senate Bill 298, which requires hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors to provide customers with a price list for services upon request. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Last year, the same senator’s “pink tax” legislation repealed state sales tax on feminine hygiene products. She said it’s another part of the effort to remove economic barriers for Illinois women.

“My hope is that the law will make service providers take a second look at what they charge women,” she said, “because what women pay, you know, these are dollars that are coming out of our family.”

Bush said gender inequity is a problem across the country. In a study published in late 2015, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products of more than 90 brands and found, on average, products for women and girls cost seven-percent more than similar products for men and boys.

A synopsis of the bill reads:

“[This bill] Amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Provides that no seller may discriminate, with respect to the price charged for services of similar or like kind, against a person because of the person’s gender. Provides that nothing in the provisions of the amendatory Act: (1) prohibits price differences based specifically upon the amount of time, difficulty, or cost of providing the services; or (2) alters or affects the provisions of the Illinois Insurance Code or other laws that govern health care service plan or insurer underwriting or rating practices. Requires certain sellers to: (a) clearly and conspicuously disclose to consumers in writing the pricing for each standard service provided; (b) provide consumers with a complete written price list upon request; and (c) display in a conspicuous place at least one clearly visible sign, which reads: “ILLINOIS LAW PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION WITH RESPECT TO THE PRICE CHARGED FOR SERVICES OF SIMILAR OR LIKE KIND, AGAINST A PERSON BECAUSE OF THE PERSON’S GENDER. A COMPLETE PRICE LIST IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.” Contains provisions concerning remedies and civil liabilities. Defines “standard service”.

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