MONTCLAIR, NJ - Residents and business owners packed into council chambers to discuss a variety of topics. Among the issues raised, the topic to receive the most attention was regarding a proposed ordinance requiring all service/retail establishments post their prices.
Many business owners spoke out against this ordinance which was originally proposed in order to prevent price discrimination. It had been discussed during a prior Civil Rights Commission meeting, and brought before the council for a vote during last month's council meeting. However, since business owners had not had a chance to allow input, the discussion was tabled until Tuesday night.
According to many owners, this ordinance has many issues which need to be addressed before it is passed such, as who will enforce it especially when most businesses are already required by the state to display their prices, business owners state.
Owner of the Pig and Prince Restaurant, Jason Gleason, spoke against this ordinance during public comment.
“After reading over the ordinance a number of times, there are a number of things I find concerning. One is regarding the term ‘basic services.’ What is considered basic?” he asked.
Gleason brought up the example of a hair salon or tattoo shop. In both of these types of businesses, there are multiple factors which determine pricing making it nearly impossible to list each price. Most hair salons charge different prices based on hair length and even how long the stylist has had their license.
Tattoo shops also create pricing based on a variety of factors as well such as location of the tattoo and the amount of time it takes to complete.
Many owners asked what brought about this ordinance and if it was truly necessary to spend the time and money to enforce something which most businesses are already in compliance with.
Councilwoman Renee Baskerville explained that it was brought to her attention by the Civil Rights Committee that price discrimination, especially in regards to gender, is a significant problem in Montclair.
“Gender price discrimination has probably received the most attention because 42 percent of females in this country pay more for services than males do,” she said.
Most reports of discrimination involved businesses such as dry cleaners, auto repair shops and hair salons but also personal hygiene products such as deodorant she said.
However, she did agree that the current ordinance did need work and should be removed until it is revised and improved.
“I am hopeful that this ordinance will not just be put on the back burner as it has been since 2015 because it is very important and we need to have these discussions,” she said.
During the meeting, members of the council declared the month of March as American Red Cross Month and the month of April as Prevention of Violence Against Children month.