Delaney J. Kirk, Ph.D., SPHR Professor of Management, Drake University Visiting Professor of Management, University of South Florida-St. Petersburg
Nicole Forbes Stowell, J.D., M.B.A. Visiting Instructor of Business Law, University of South Florida-St. Petersburg
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, state that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or military experience. But what about discrimination based on appearance? Can an employer legally choose to hire, fire, promote, demote, or make any other decision about a potential or current employee based on the way he or she looks? In many cases, the answer is yes. An employer can discriminate against a person based on appearance because there are no federal laws and very few state laws that prohibit an employer from making decisions based solely on an employee's or potential employee's height, weight or general appearance. Some employees or potential employees have attempted to sue their employers by linking appearance discrimination to other types of discrimination, but records show that employers have the law, or lack of law, on their side.
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Farrell, Allison T., "Lookism: The Silent Discrimination" (2007). USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate). 27.