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New Illinois Law Targets Gender-Based Price Discrepancies

Studies have shown women pay more than men for services such as dry cleaning for comparable items. (cdc.gov)
Studies have shown women pay more than men for services such as dry cleaning for comparable items. (cdc.gov)
August 23, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - It soon will no longer be OK in Illinois 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Last year, the same senator's "pink tax" legislation repealed state sales tax on feminine hygiene products.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.

Read the text of SB 298 at ilga.gov. The New York study is at nyc.gov.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL