November 21, 2008
Litigation Alerts

No Consumer Discrimination Case If No Purchase

A California state appeals court, in a case of first impression, has adopted "a bright-line rule that a person must tender the purchase price for a business's services or products in order to have standing to sue it for alleged discriminatory practices."  The case involves an online matchmaking service, "true.com" which began offering free services to women, in an effort to balance the far greater number of male patrons signing up for its online matchmaking services.  A male consumer then brought suit for gender-based civil rights discrimination under California's Unruh Act, and for violation of the state's Gender Tax Repeal Act (Civil Code Section 51.6) which provides that "No business establishment of any kind may discriminate, with respect to the price charged for services of similar or like kind, against a person because of the person's gender."  In this case, because the complaining consumer failed to complete a purchase transaction under the discriminatory price structure, the court ruled that he is not a victim, has not been damaged, and hence has no standing to sue.  Accordingly, his suit on behalf of himself "and the general public" was properly dismissed.  (Surrey v. True Beginnings, LLC, California Court of Appeal No. D050881, November 18, 2008)
Back to Alerts