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Customers may avoid doing business with a gay photographer because they are disgusted by homosexuality.They may move to another line at a car-rental counter to steer clear of a service representative wearing a Sikh turban because they assume all foreign-looking people are terrorists.
It is a puzzle why we generally take for granted the right of customers to discriminate when they exercise their buying power.
When society deems other market behaviors harmful enough, it customarily regulates both the supply and the demand side of the transaction.
For example, both the sale of certain drugs and their possession are criminal.
Why, then, do we consider discrimination unacceptable when engaged in by firms but allow it on the part of customers?
We conclude that a direct ban on discrimination by customers would be ineffective, and likely counterproductive.
Instead, we advocate intervention directed at those upon whom the law already imposes statutory non-discrimination obligations—i.e. The proposal imposes a duty on these actors to refrain from facilitating harmful discrimination by their customers and, in some cases, to structure customer choices in order to diminish the effects of their discriminatory biases.
The privacy rationale offers a more powerful justification for focusing on firms rather than on customers, but again does not justify the absence of any policy whatsoever for reducing discrimination by customers.
A policy against discrimination by customers would not mean necessarily treating all forms of discrimination the same.
The marketing company Word Stream analyzed 300 responses from the company’s clients to a request to rate their level of satisfaction with client service representatives.
Overall, clients undervalued female marketers by 21%.