We previously reported on an emerging legislative and litigation trend relating to the “pink tax” – a gender-based pricing phenomenon that allegedly results in higher prices for goods and services marketed towards women as compared to substantially similar alternatives marketed towards men. As predicted, the last two years have shown an uptick in litigation (which has been largely unsuccessful) and legislative action (some finalized and some pending).
Last year, we discussed an early blow to the pink tax theory of liability in Schulte v. Conopco, d/b/a Unilever, et al. In Schulte, the plaintiffs alleged that various personal care manufacturers and retailers violated the Missouri Merchandizing Practices Act (MMPA) by charging more for deodorants marketed for women than allegedly similar deodorants marketed for men. The product lines at issue contained similar, but not identical, ingredients, came in different sizes, and were available in different scents (fifteen “feminine” scents in the line marketed for women and five “masculine” scents in the line marketed for men). The Eastern District of Missouri dismissed the complaint, ruling that “Missouri law does not compel identical products to be sold at the same price” and that the plaintiff’s remedy “lies with legislation, not litigation.” The Eighth Circuit affirmed on the grounds that the plaintiff mistook “gender-based marketing for gender discrimination.” In order to state a claim, the court ruled that the plaintiff would have to allege that the only difference between the products was the price and the intended target of the marketing. Here, because the plaintiff conceded that the products were, in fact, different, thus dismissal was appropriate.
Continue Reading The Pink Tax: A Litigation and Legislation Update