We know about many types of discrimination that are illegal under California employment law, but what about appearance discrimination? Is it actually prohibited by law to discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on his or her appearance?
“To some extent, it is,” says our Pasadena Workplace discrimination attorney from Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers.
The role appearance plays in the workplace
Appearance is something we are born with, and, often, something that we have absolutely no control over.
Multiple studies show that appearance makes a huge difference in the workplace and hiring process. Resumes with a headshot of a beautiful woman or handsome man are more likely to get responses compared to those that feature average-looking people. Similarly, attractive persons are more likely to get a promotion, according to studies.
This means that some employers have a bias against certain people based on the size of their nose, body type, weight, tattoos, hairstyle, height, and other characteristics. And while California employment law protects employees in Los Angeles, Riverside, Pasadena and other cities across the state from a wide range of discriminations in the workplace, appearance discrimination is not currently illegal.
Is appearance discrimination illegal in California?
Our best workplace discrimination lawyers in California explain that while discriminating against employees based their appearance is unfair and can lead to similar negative consequences for the worker who is being discriminated as the illegal types of discrimination (emotional distress, low self-esteem, hostile work environment, etc.), many employees all across the state are frustrated to find out that in most situations, their hands are tied and they cannot take legal action against the employer.
But in no way does it mean that all forms of appearance discrimination are tolerated by the law. Under the current law in California, hiring people with a certain appearance is not prohibited by law as long as this requirement can be justified by the job duties and the type of appearance that is being discriminated against is not one of the protected characteristics such as skin color, race, age, disability, medical condition, sexual orientation and other.
Types of appearance discrimination that are prohibited by law
- Skin color or race: If you are being discriminated against based on your skin color or race, this type of appearance discrimination is illegal under California employment law and allows you to pursue compensation by filing a discrimination claim.
- Age: The same goes for employees who are being discriminated against because of their age. If you exhibit signs of aging and younger co-workers are given a preference against older people in the company, then you may have an age discrimination claim on your hands.
- Disability or medical condition: If your boss discriminates against you because of your disability or medical condition, which affects your appearance, then you may be able to sue your employer.
- Sexual orientation: If your employer discriminates against you because of the way you style your hair, the way you dress, the way you walk or talk, you may be dealing with sexual orientation discrimination.
If you notice signs of any of the above-mentioned types of appearance discrimination, do not hesitate to speak to our Pasadena workplace discrimination attorney at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers and schedule a free consultation. While appearance discrimination in itself is not currently illegal in California, some forms of it are.