B for Beauty, Gender, Lawsuit of the Day, Women's Issues

Lawsuit of the Day: Putting the ‘Man’ Back in Manicure

Somewhere in America, another man who has been embarrassed by an overpriced manicure is clapping (albeit carefully, so that he doesn’t chip his nail polish).

Norris Sydnor III, a 43-year-old Maryland man, is suing his nail salon for $200,000 after being charged $10 for a manicure, when women beside him were being charged only $9 for the same service. A judge issued an injunction on June 15 which ordered the salon to stop charging men more than women. A trial is set for July 21.

When I first read about this lawsuit, I was jealous, because my manicures usually cost $15. I want a $9 manicure, and I don’t want to have to drive to Maryland to get one. My jealousy, however, turned to rage when I found out that Sydnor’s lawyer, Jimmy Bell, is comparing his client to Rosa Parks.

Is this guy seriously suing over one dollar? And is his lawyer actually comparing him to one of the revolutionaries of the civil rights era? The answer to both of those questions, sadly, is yes, and I’m pissed off about it. In fact, I was so pissed off that I actually did some research about this lawsuit. And boy, am I glad that I did…

Here’s the story, from FOX DC:

Norris Sydnor III of Mitchellville said he was humiliated at Rich’s Nail Salon in Landover, Md., when they charged him the extra dollar after his December 16, 2010 manicure.

“I feel I’m being discriminated against based on my gender. There’s nothing to say my hands or my nails are any different than a woman’s nails,” Sydnor told FOX 5’s Will Thomas.

My favorite part of the news segment for this lawsuit is FOX DC anchor Laura Evans’s expression when she makes her conclusory remarks, stating, “Hopefully if he takes home $200,000, he’ll donate it to a good charity.” It’s like she’s struggling to keep herself from dropping an f-bomb over poor, unlucky Sydnor and his discriminatory manicure.

Well, actually, that’s not true at all, because Sydnor’s got luck on his side and he’s a betting man. He’s won things from 50-inch flat-screens to tickets to sporting events. He’s also won thousands of dollars playing Texas Hold ‘Em in World Series of Poker tournaments.

This guy looks like he could be a linebacker, and here he is, selling his dignity over a manicure and a dollar. But with a potential $200,000 payday at the end of this lawsuit, wouldn’t any other gambler do the same?

First, let me just say that I take issue with Sydnor’s seemingly faux “woe is me” attitude. Last time I checked, women are charged more than men for almost every beauty service available. Where a man’s haircut may cost $20, a woman’s costs $40 or more. We get charged more for dry-cleaning, too. We make something like 77 cents to every dollar a man earns.

Hey Sydnor, want to trade? Then you’ll really have something to be humiliated about.

Jimmy Bell

But, getting back to the story, this isn’t the first time that Rich’s Nail Salon has been to the lawsuit rodeo. As it turns out, the salon has been sued for gender discrimination in the past. Who was the alleged victim? None other than Sydnor’s lawyer, Jimmy Bell.

According to ABC News, in November 2009, Bell walked into the salon for a mani/pedi, and walked out with “great shock and emotional distress.” How could something like this possibly happen to a person like Bell, a self-professed graduate of “some of the best undergraduate [Sacramento State] and law schools [American University] in the country”?

Bell was so appalled by the $4 price difference that, according to his lawsuit (which actually reads more like a résumé), he felt just like the Rosa Parks of emasculating beauty services:

[T]his case mirrors the case of Rosa Parks in that Ms. Parks paid the same price for unequal treatment because of her race and Mr. Bell received unequal treatment for an unequal price because of his sex.

Ohh, I get it. It’s the same, except not at all. Did Bell and his lawyer (a former associate at Bell’s firm) just figure that if they name-dropped an important and influential black person that they’d gain some favor with the court? Get real.

So, maybe Bell has regrets over the fact that his case against Rich’s Nail Salon was dismissed per stipulation, and went looking for a pal to cry gender discrimination. Maybe the salon just didn’t learn its lesson the first time around. Or maybe, just maybe, Bell is looking for metrosexuals to recruit for a class action suit against the salon, as suggested by the Washington Post.

Either way, as to Sydnor’s case, although he may be able to recover under Maryland’s all or nothing approach to discrimination, he requested a jury trial (which was a pretty dumb thing to do). I feel like Sydnor probably doesn’t want to argue this case in front of a jury of his peers, because no rational juror going to believe that this guy was legitimately humiliated because he had to pay $1 more for his manicure.

I’ll tell you what: Sydnor wouldn’t want me to be on his jury, because in my opinion, neither he nor Bell are victims of gender discrimination. If Sydnor and Bell are victims of anything, it’s genetics.

Maryland Man Files Lawsuit Against Nail Salon After Being Charged $1 More Than Woman For Manicure [FOX DC]
Man Sues Salon After Being Charged $1 More Than Women for Manicure [Huffington Post]
Lawyer Jimmy A. Bell Goes After Landover Nail Salon for Charging Men More Than Women [Reliable Source / Washington Post]
Md. Salon Charges Men More Than Women for Manicures, Pedicures [ABC News]

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