Sept. 23, 2010 — -- A Maryland man who was charged $4 more than his female companion at a nail salon has filed a lawsuit claiming sex discrimination.
Jimmy Bell of Upper Marlboro said he was shocked when he noticed that the salon had charged him extra for the manicure and pedicure at Rich's Nail Salon in Landover, Md.
"I went to go pay and the person was going over the bill and I noticed that when he said the price for [my date's] manicure and pedicure, it was different than mine," Bell said of the Nov. 7, 2009, incident. "At that point I asked, 'Why do I have to pay more than her,' and he said, 'Because you're a man.
"They're saying that men have to pay more for the exact same service and it's wrong, it's illegal," Bell, 41, said.
An employee at the salon had no comment but confirmed that the cost of a women's pedicure is $20, compared with $22 for men.
The lawsuit, filed in Prince George's County Circuit Court Monday, claimed "gender-based price discrimination" against Rich's Salon.
A pamphlet from the salon provided to ABCNews.com by Bell shows the prices differ between male and female clients.
A manicure is listed as $10 for a female and $11 for "gentlemen." A deluxe manicure, which includes exfoliation, is priced at $14 for women and $16 for men.
"You may say that's just $2 or $4, but if they have about 10 nail technicians and if they're doing even just five men a day, between manicures and pedicures they're making at least $70,000 extra [a year] on just men alone," Bell said. "That's wrong, that's discrimination."
A representative from the International Nail Tech Association, which has 70,000 members, said she had never heard of a man being charged more than a woman for nail services.
The lawsuit, filed by Bell's lawyer Edward Malone, claimed that the discrimination caused him "great shock and emotional distress."
"[The salon] acted with actual malice and with reckless disregard for the rights of others," read the suit, which also claims that the salon workers had an "evil motive, ill will, an intent to injure and an intent to defraud."
Bell Holds Up Rosa Parks
The suit also draws similarities between Bell's case and the historic case of Rosa Parks. Parks was forced to sit in the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955 because she was black, despite paying the same fare as the white riders.
When Parks refused, she was arrested, sparking the Montgomery bus boycott that lasted well into the following year.
"Rosa Parks paid the same amount of money as the white customers but was required to go and sit at the back and that was the law at that time," Bell said. "My case is that I paid more money than what females are required to pay and that is against the law at this time."
Bell is asking for a combined $200,000 in punitive and compensatory damages, as well as coverage of his legal fees.
He has also filed an injunction against the salon to force it to stop charging different prices for men and women.
"I want the salon to stop discriminating against someone just because of their sex," Bell said. "Discrimination is still hurtful. I couldn't believe it, here I am a person who went to some of the best undergraduate and law schools in the country.
"I keep my head on straight and do the things I am supposed to do and I'm out on a date having a great time and someone treats you less than another citizen."
This is not the first case of a salon charging different prices for services. A Georgia salon came under fire last month after it charged an overweight woman extra for her manicure.
Michelle Fonville, 40, said she was "humiliated" when she discovered she had been overcharged by $5 because of her weight. The salon had told her that they were worried that their expensive chairs might break.