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EEOC is on the lookout for ‘beauty bias’

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

The EEOC’s Boston office is investigating the Marylou’s Coffee chain, looking into its apparent practice of hiring attractive young women. The agency took up the probe on its own—no employee filed a complaint. According to the Fisher Phillips law firm, “the EEOC’s big adventure raises a troubling question: Is the EEOC trying to establish that it’s illegal for an employer to prefer attractive employees over unattractive ones?”

Such cases are sometimes brought under sex discrimination laws or the ADA, but most have been unsuccessful. Unattractiveness doesn’t count as a disability (although morbid obesity does). Only a few states and cities have laws prohibiting job bias based on appearance, including Washington, D.C. (“personal appearance”), Santa Cruz, Ca., (“physical characteristics”) and Michigan (“height and weight”).

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