HCBE Faculty Articles

Title

Appearance Discrimination in Employment: Legal and Ethical Implications of “Lookism” and “Lookphobia”

Document Type

Article

Date

1-1-2013

Publication Title

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal

ISSN or ISBN

2040-7149

Volume

32

Issue

1

First Page

89

Last Page

119

Description

Purpose – The article aims to provide a discussion of societal norms concerning “attractiveness,” the existence of appearance discrimination in employment, the presence of “preferring the pretty”, and then the authors examine important civil rights laws that relate to such forms of discrimination. Finally, the authors apply ethical theories to determine whether such discrimination can be seen as moral or immoral. Design/methodology/approach – It is a legal paper which covers all the laws related to discrimination based on look. Court cases and Americans laws related to this concept are reviewed and critically discussed. Findings – The paper finds that appearance‐based discrimination is not illegal in the USA so long as it does not violate civil rights laws. Research limitations/implications – This research is limited to Federal and State laws in the USA and may not be relevant in other countries as the local laws might vary. Practical implications – Managers and employees can protect themselves in the workplace from illegal discriminatory practices. Social implications – Employees know their rights and enhance their understanding of laws related to appearance, attractiveness, and why companies look to hire those who are considered “handsome”, “pretty” and “beautiful”. Originality/value – This is an original and comprehensive paper by the authors.

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