Los Angeles is one of those cities where extremely attractive people gravitate in the hope of making it in show business or modeling. In these professions, physical attractiveness is in many cases a qualification – at least for particular jobs.
But what about other kinds of employers? Are they legally allowed to refuse to hire or discriminate against people they consider unattractive or not attractive “enough?”
When is discrimination based on looks illegal?
It’s not generally illegal to discriminate against prospective or current employees based on their attractiveness. Upscale restaurants, stores, hotels and other businesses often put a premium on good looks – especially for employees who will be interacting with customers. However, what is deemed “unattractive” or “not the right look” by an employer is often based on criteria that could get them into legal jeopardy.
For example, if what an employer finds unattractive is a person’s age, race, ethnicity, disability or any characteristic that is protected by state and/or federal law, that could be a problem. Even if an employer doesn’t come out and acknowledge that they find certain kinds of people unattractive, if a business ends up being comprised only of white people or only of people under 40, and people who don’t fit that description have been fired, that employer could face a discrimination suit.
Some select municipalities, including San Francisco and Santa Cruz here in California, include “physical appearance” or “physical characteristics” as a protected class. These areas, at least at the present time, are outliers.
What are your rights if you’ve been victimized by workplace discrimination?
If you have questions about whether what you faced or are dealing with is illegal and what you can do about it, an experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance.