A California Chamber of Commerce-opposed job killer bill that exposed businesses to costly litigation when goods are “substantially similar,” yet priced differently, was pulled from the hearing schedule this week by the bill’s author.
The bill, SB 899 (Hueso; D-San Diego), sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California, could have subjected businesses to a minimum $4,000 of damages for each violation.
SB 899 intended to force retailers and grocery stores to charge the same price for “male” versus “female” products, which would have required the sellers to either engage in gender stereotyping of consumer goods or increase prices to the highest price for a good of “substantially similar or like kind.” The bill also would have exposed these employers to the same costly, drive-by litigation that has been plaguing businesses in California with regard to disability access.
In testimony before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 21, CalChamber Policy Advocate Jennifer Barrera explained that although SB 899 provided a limited list of “gender-neutral” reasons a good may be priced differently, proof of those reasons would come up only after litigation has already been filed and costs and attorney’s fees incurred.
The committee also delayed voting on SB 899 during the June 21 meeting. At that hearing there was much discussion among the committee members about whether the bill’s language could be amended to deal with their concerns.
July 1 is the deadline for legislative policy committees to meet and report bills.