Friday, November 04, 2005

Looks-based discrimination

I recently came across a law review article arguing that looks-based employment discrimination should be banned along with race-, age-, sex-, and disability-based discrimination. It pointed out that one's level of attractiveness is, like these other categories, largely immutable. It cited many studies suggesting that looks-based discrimination has a huge effect on hiring, promotions, and earnings--in some cases greater than the effect of race-based discrimination.

Of course, if looks are important to your job (model, maybe receptionist, etc.) the discrimination would be ok (just as blind people can't sue when they are denied positions as busdrivers.) But for most jobs, looks aren't really important.

Any thoughts?

6 comments:

Squishy Burrito said...

I was phased out of my employment at a Chinese food restaurant. They wanted a more asian look. True Story.

Fishfrog said...

As an attractive person who benefits from this (very fair) form of discrimination, I just want to say that looks-based discrimination helps society. How? I don't know.

Leo said...

Er . . . receptionist seems to be approaching a sort of line that doesn't want to be approached. If attractiveness is an acceptable standard by which to judge a receptionist why not a salesperson? I am sure there are studies showing that attractive people sell things more easily than ugly ones (or if not, I am sure that if such a study were done that is what it would show). Why not attorneys? Law is a "people profession," and a major component of success is "winning friends and influencing people." Easier to do if you are attractive than if you're not. Even mechanics deal with people.

Fishfrog said...

I agree with Leo. Looks-Based discrimination should be not just accepted, but encouraged to increase the efficiency of our economy.

Anonymous said...

I think discrimination challenges should be the same as a Batsen challenge. (ask a law person if you dont know batsen challenges). If the discriminator can give any non discrimination reason for firing/not hiring someone then the discrimination is ok, even if everyone knows that there is really discrimination going on.

Fishfrog said...

Actually, even if the objecting party can give a non-discriminatory reason for the objection (or for the peremptory challenge, more technically, as the Batson Challenge is used in voir dire to overrule a peremptory challenge to a potential juror), the trial judge still the authority to sustain the challenge if he determines the nondiscriminatory reason is pretextual, and the true reason is the race or sex of the juror. But other than that technicality, the current law in some states allows a suit for wrongful termination based on a similar analysis. So if someone is fired because of ugliness from a job which has a good-cause requirement for termination (gov't and union jobs mainly), the employer would have to give a nondiscriminatory reason for the termination... I think.