A UK brewery’s campaign to highlight the “gender pay gap” imploded spectacularly after they lost a lawsuit for refusing to sell a beer made for women to a man.
BrewDog announced their “Pink IPA” in 2018 to mark International Women’s Day.
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. We’re taking aim at the gender pay gap with our latest beer, Pink IPA. It might look different to Punk IPA on the outside, but on the inside, it’s just the same. And we’re donating 20% of proceeds to the Women's Engineering Society. The link to the full scoop is in our bio!
The beer is the same formula as one of BrewDog’s other beers, “Punk IPA,” but “Pink” comes with pink artwork, a label that says “beer for girls,” and a 20% discount – for women.
The trouble for BrewDog started when Dr. Thomas Bower was denied a sale of Pink IPA at one of its brewpubs in Cardiff in March 2018.
Bower said he was told the beer, which sells to women for £4, was only available for sale to women and people who identify as women. Punk IPA, in contrast, sells for £6.
“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 – 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,” Dr. Bower said, according to Wales Online.
“Not satisfied with this, I complained again to BrewDog stating that I was intending to take them to court over this but would rather resolve the problem outside court. They ignored this.”
Bower took the matter to small claims court where he sued BrewDog for “direct discrimination and breach of the Equality Act 2010.”
“[I] felt forced to lie about my sex in order to receive the product at the lower price and told the bartender that I identified as female. The bartender then served me the drink at a price of £4,” Bower wrote in his complaint.
The judge reviewing the case sided with Bower, saying BrewDog clearly discriminated against him on the basis of sex.
“In my judgment, it is clear that in this case the claimant has been directly discriminated against by the defendant because of his sex,” a transcript of District Judge Phillips’ summary judgement reportedly states.
“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.”
Bower was awarded £1,000, which he said he’d donate toward a woman’s organization and suicide prevention line for men after paying court fees.
As noted by embattled YouTuber Sargon of Akaad, the brewery ironically had no problem invoking female stereotypes for their marketing ploy, and despite BrewDog’s effort to fight the “gender pay patriarchy,” the company admitted to having a 2.3% pay gap favoring men.