A man won a gender discrimination lawsuit against a Scottish brewery after it refused to give him a Women’s Day discount – only consenting after he claimed to identify as female.
District Judge Marshall Phillips awarded Thomas Bower, a 27-year-old Welsh software engineer, $1,200 in damages at the Civil Justice Centre in Cardiff, Wales.
According to court documents seen by Wales Online, Bower took BrewDog to small claims court over his experience last March at the local BrewDog pub. Bower attempted to purchase a Pink IPA, which BrewDog had marked down 20 percent as part of a Women’s Day marketing campaign meant to highlight the “gender pay gap.”
The craft beer was only available to patrons who identified as female.
Bower alleged that a bartender initially refused to sell him the beer, and instead offered him the costlier Punk IPA. He said that he subsequently “felt forced to identify as a female.”
“After a bit of a back and forth with me protesting this, I felt forced to identify as female and was then able to get the drink for £4,” he said. “I complained to the company about this and they said it wasn’t discrimination because the price difference was part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the gender pay gap.”
Bower said he was unsatisfied with Brewdog’s response and told the business he intended “to take them to court over this but would rather resolve the problem outside court.”
The judge was persuaded by Bower, who represented himself in court.
“It is clear that in this case the claimant has been directly discriminated against by the defendant because of his sex,” Phillips said in his judgment. “The fact that by identifying as female he was still able to purchase a Pink IPA, makes no difference.”
“I accept what Dr Bower says, namely that identifying as female was the only way he could purchase a Pink IPA at a cost of £4,” he added.
Bower said he donated the money he won in the suit to charity.
“After taking into account my costs, I donated equal amounts of this award to the Young Women’s Trust, which aims to help women negotiate for better pay, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which runs a male suicide prevention line, among other things,” he told The Telegraph.
Brewdog tries to highlight the “pink” tax
Brewdog, a multinational brewery and pub chain, launched its Pink IPA beverage, satirically labeled “Beer for Girls,” in 2018 with the aim of “exposing the sexist marketing techniques used to target women, particularly within the beer industry,” Wales Online reported.
We’ve created a beer for girls. And it’s pink. Because women only like pink and glitter, right?
Lets show that enough is enough with stereotypes. pic.twitter.com/g1zonXFInm
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) March 6, 2018
The progressive brewery isn’t alone in taking on the so-called “pink tax.” Along with the broader issue of gender pay disparity, discriminatory women’s pricing has in recent years been a focus of feminist activists and the media.
The New York Times editorial board in 2014 decried “a shopping injustice: sexist pricing policies.”
In 2015, the Femsplain blog characterized the “the insidious gendered pricing” as a “cornerstone of toxic masculinity.”
In an essay for Bustle later that year entitled, “This Scary New Study on Gendered Pricing Shows Its Reach Is Greater Than You Thought,” Hillary E. Crawford wrote: “It’s particularly disconcerting that on top of discriminatory price increases, women make less money, on average, than men.”
But Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown is among those who have rejected the idea that the pink tax is the work of the patriarchy. Responding in 2016 to a study by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Nolan Brown wrote:
Of course, individual consumers do have control over which products they buy, though. And while the pink razors with the butterflies on the packaging my be marketed toward women, no one’s forcing us to buy those over basic blue Bics. If the products in this study really were identical save for some totally non-desired factors, it seems likely that women, or at least a larger proportion of women, would simply choose the products marketed toward men.
Since they don’t, one can jump to one of two conclusions: either women are so brainwashed by marketing that they choose products against their own best interests because of it, or women find some discernible appeal in the women’s products—be that different ingredients, cosmetic factors, or whatever else—that make them worth paying more for. I’m going to go with the explanation that grants women a little intelligence and agency.