A New York City barber was accused of violating the city’s discrimination policy because he charged women three dollars more for a hair cut than men.
“I’m here for 21 years and I’ve never heard of such a thing,” said Leon Kogut, the owner of Leon’s Fantasy Cut in Brooklyn. “The guy tells me this is discrimination of a woman.”
Kogut, who is originally from the former Soviet Union, told Fox News he ran afoul of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. An inspector slapped the barber with three violations totaling $650 in fines.
“I feel upset,” he said. “We are struggling to survive. It’s a lot – a lot of money.”
Kogut said the inspector took issue with the fact that he charged $13 for a man’s haircut and $16 for a woman’s.
“A woman’s haircut requires a lot of skill,” Kogut said. “You have to style the hair, blow dry, use the mousse, the hairspray. It could take hours to get her hair cut.”
On the other hand, he said, it only takes a few minutes to cut a guy’s hair.
“It’s a different kind of hair cut,” he said.
Kogut tried to reason with the city inspector.
“If you go to a restaurant and order a hamburger, you don’t expect to get the steak for that money,” he said. “Are you discriminating against the cow? Same cow, same meat – but different part of the meat. Of course there’s going to be a different price.”
The inspector was not swayed and told Kogut that to be in compliance of the law – he could only charge different prices for “long hair” and “short hair.”
“I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it. It’s my mistake,’” he said. “But I never know this – nobody ever told me this.”
But that wasn’t the end of Kogut’s problems. It turns out the city also took issue with his nearly 100-year-old cash register.
Why didn’t the cash register print receipts, the inspector demanded to know.
“I told him, ‘the cash register is three times older than you, sir,’” Kogut said. “The cash register is 93 years old.”
That resulted in another fine for the 64-year-old barber.
“Nobody ever asks for receipts in a barber shop,” he said. “I’m here 21 years in this shop and nobody asks for receipt.”
The Dept. of Consumer Affairs told the New York Daily News that city law stipulates all businesses must include price information on its receipts.
But Public Advocate Bill de Blasio told the newspaper this is more about petty fines.
“We cannot hold small businesses hostage to the city’s budget,” he told the Daily News. “It’s time to stop treating small businesses like an ATM and take an honest look at what the fines are really costing the city.”
Kogut told Fox News he works 12 hours a day, six days a week and it’s all he can do to pay the bills.
“The hit us like that – for what? We don’t deserve this. We are good citizens here.”
He said that New York City is beginning to remind him of the Old Country.
“I ran away from Communism,” he said. “The system in New York City reminds me of Communism. The government can do anything to you.”