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Seattle diner charges female customers less on Women’s Day

Seattle's North Star Diner charged women less on International Women's Day to highlight the pay gap between men and women. (reddit)

On International Women’s Day, Seattle’s North Star Diner drew attention to the wage gap between men and women by charging female customers less. But the effort didn’t come without criticism Wednesday.

“We decided to offer what we call a ‘pay equity discount,'” said North Star Diner owner Kato Lombardi. “The latest analysis of the gender pay gap is that women make 79 cents to a man’s dollar for equal work. So we decided to charge 79 percent of full price to women for International Women’s Day.”

“It’s a discount you see on the bill, so in effect it’s a 21 percent discount,” Lombardi said.

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International Women’s Day is not new. It has been celebrated for more than 100 years, promoting gender equality. The North Star Diner decided to commemorate the day by switching up its prices. But as soon as receipts went out, a reddit thread was started and the internet started weighing in — some claiming that the discount was essentially reverse discrimination against men.

“It’s the same reason we don’t need an International Men’s Day,” Lombardi pointed out. “Many would argue that most days, men enjoy privileges that women don’t enjoy. White people enjoy privileges that people of color don’t enjoy. I don’t, personally, believe in reverse discrimination for those reasons.”

Lombardi also has heard of criticism over the 79 percent statistic. But she argues that it’s the most reliable one out there. There is a range of studies available online, many citing a pay gap somewhere between 79-82 percent.

“It’s a moving target,” she said. “Who knows exactly what it is on a given day. The latest good analysis I found was 79 percent. But when I typed into the Google search bar, it auto filled ‘pay gap myth.’ It was the very first auto fill.”

“Obviously, it’s a prevalent belief (that the pay gap is a myth),” Lombardi said. “The internet is the internet. So you will find whatever you want to support your beliefs. So I tried to look up multiple sources.”

North Star Diner

Lombardi also said that the day of discounts was merely an extension of the diner doing business according to its values. The business has a wall where customers can put hand prints and welcoming messages. And after election day, the bar side of the business had a Women’s karaoke scream fest.

“We invited people in to sing angry karaoke songs and do a group scream once an hour,” Lombardi said. “It was actually the busiest night the bar has ever had.”

And for International Women’s Day, the North Star Diner opted to do business according to its value that women should be paid equally to men.

“This is about being welcoming,” she said. “It’s not about not providing discounts to certain people. It’s about standing with our beliefs. We think our prices are fair all year round. It’s just a little something extra we could do on Women’s Day.”

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