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June 23, 2008

Nuts4chic - Appearance-based Discrimination

Lip Piercings

"I'm Too Sexy For This Job" – Discrimination-Based Lawsuits Increasing
by Elizabeth Black

Discrimination lawsuits that are based on appearance are increasing.

These days, men and women can be discriminated against if they are not good looking enough, too good looking, too sexy, too fat, too thin, and if their physical appearance doesn't meet company standards.

Michelle Sullivan was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority at Purdue University. She left the sorority after she found a poster of her face on a pig's body that said "Looks like someone gained weight."

DePauw University made the news when the Delta Zeta sorority kicked out twenty-three women who were thought of as not sexy enough. The President of the university didn't believe the sorority's excuse that the women were given the boot because they didn't meet the sorority's recruitment efforts. The President said that beginning in the fall of 2007, the sorority would no longer be offered housing on campus.

People, especially women, are judged by their looks all the time. A female bartender in a Las Vegas casino was fired for refusing to wear makeup. She had worked there for twenty years, and did not always wear makeup. The casino had appearance-based requirements in its standards. The makeup standards were later revised so that makeup worn would be tasteful, but makeup was no longer required to be worn. The casino says that the lawsuit filed by the bartender did not influence the decision.

I remember when it seemed to be a job requirement to work at a Starbucks coffee shop that you have at least five facial piercings. In any other job, face piercings would be frowned upon. Costco is one company that has a ban of facial piercings. An employee in Massachusetts fought that ban.

You can even be too attractive. A Harvard University librarian claimed she was fired because she was too attractive. She wore sexy outfits that didn't fit with the prim image of a librarian.

What happens when you begin to age, and your looks start to leave you? Age discrimination is quite common nowadays. Youth rules in the world, and the good looks that go with youth rule as well.

The first time I had heard of appearance-based discrimination was against broadcast journalist Christine Craft. She was made over in a way that she disliked. Her hair was dyed platinum blonde. She was demoted from co-anchor to reporter because she was called " too old, too unattractive, and wouldn't defer to men." She filed a lawsuit against the company, and a jury later awarded her $500,000 in damages. A judge later threw out the verdict. Craft filed again, and won, and the judgment was again thrown out later.

Women are judged by their looks all the time. A woman can be both too pretty and not pretty enough. She's too fat or too thin. Her skin is held under scrutiny for zits, pockmarks, and uneven skin color. Her thighs are too fat. Her calves are too thin.

Your looks can affect your employment. It is infuriating that years of experience and a kick-ass resume can be overlooked because the prospective employer thinks you are not hot enough. Or that you are too fat. Or too short. This kind of discrimination is illegal, but that doesn’t seem to stop employers from engaging in it.

Posted on June 23, 2008 at 09:45 AM | Permalink

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