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Cuomo reminds New Yorkers 'pink tax' ban goes into effect

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Wed, Sep 30th 2020 05:35 pm

Businesses are prohibited from charging a different price for consumer goods or services that are ‘substantially similar’ based on gender

Banning ‘pink tax’ was enacted as part of FY 2021 budget, key component of governor's 2020 Women's Agenda

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that, starting today, new reforms go into effect prohibiting businesses from charging a "pink tax," otherwise known as the practice of charging different prices for "substantially similar" consumer goods or services that are marketed to different genders.

In April, the governor signed the FY 2021 New York state budget, which included his proposal to ban the "pink tax." The new measure requires certain service providers to provide price lists for standard services upon request and notifies them that gender-based price discrimination is prohibited under state law. Businesses that violate the law will be subject to civil penalties.

"New York is leading the nation in advancing women's rights and this milestone marks the latest step in New York's journey to break down barriers and put women on an equal playing field," Cuomo said. "By abolishing the ‘pink tax,’ women and girls will no longer be subject to harmful and unfair price discrimination and any businesses who fail to put an end to this despicable practice will be held accountable."

"Women and girls continue to face inequalities in many aspects of their daily lives, and it is unacceptable that they have to pay more than men for similar goods and services," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Eliminating the ‘pink tax’ helps put an end to gender-based pricing, ensure financial success and break down barriers for women. We do not tolerate discriminatory actions in our state, and we will continue to fight to eliminate the gender wage gap and achieve full equality and justice for all New Yorkers."

"The ‘pink tax’ was gender-based discrimination, plain and simple," said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor and chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls. "In New York, women have been forced to accept the unjust reality of a higher price tag for identical goods marketed to men. It was unacceptable and, starting today, women and girls across this state can be confident that it won't happen again. New York has made tremendous progress in advancing gender equity through Gov. Cuomo's Women's Agenda and abolishing the ‘pink tax’ is a critical next step."

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "For far too long, women have paid more for services and products that were substantially the same as the male marketed version. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for his leadership in ending this widely accepted, everyday injustice that women of all ages have suffered in the marketplace. This landmark law points to a new and fair era for women in the marketplace."

Since the early 1990s, numerous studies have demonstrated the stark disparities in the cost of substantially similar goods and services based on whether they were marketed for men or women. Across the board, the studies found women paid more for the female version of the same product offered to men. The economic impact on women to pay more for the same product has a greater overall reach than those immediate purchases.

The new law mandates any individual or entity, including retailers, suppliers, manufacturers or distributors, are prohibited from charging a price for two "substantially similar" goods or services, if the goods or services are priced differently based on the gender for whom the goods or services are marketed.

"Substantially similar goods" is defined as two goods that exhibit little difference in the materials used in production, intended use, functional design and features, and brand. "Goods" include any consumer product used, bought or rendered primarily for personal, family or household purposes. For example, the same children's swimming pool product brand and dimensions offered in pink at $89.99 and blue at $69.99 would constitute a violation of law.

"Substantially similar services" is defined as two services that exhibit little difference in the amount of time delivering, difficulty and cost in providing the service. "Services" include any consumer services used, bought or rendered primarily for personal, family or household purposes. For example, dry cleaning a woman's suit jacket for $12 and a man's suit jacket for $8, would constitute a violation of law.

The new law also seeks to empower consumers by giving them the right to receive, upon request, a written price list from any business that provides a service. The New York State Division of Consumer Protection encourages consumers to familiarize themselves of the new requirement and ask their service providers in advance for a price list.

Anyone selling products or providing services can avoid running afoul of the new law by ensuring any price difference is based upon the following:

√ The amount of time it took to manufacture such goods or provide such services;

√ The difficulty in manufacturing such goods or offering such services;

√ The cost incurred in manufacturing such goods or offering such services;

√ The labor used in manufacturing such goods or providing such services;

√ The materials used in manufacturing such goods or providing such services; and

√ Any other gender-neutral reason for having increased the cost of such goods or services.

Violations of the law are subject to the court ordered enjoinment of such sales, restitution to consumers, up to a $250 fine for the first violation, and up to $500 fine for any subsequent violations.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower New York consumers. Contact the DCP at 800-697-1220 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or file a complaint online at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The DCP can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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