Can an Employer Discriminate Against You Because You Are Not Good Looking Enough?
Everyone knows that you are not supposed to judge people based on their physical appearance, but most of us do not apply that precept consistently in our daily lives. Finding a community of people who judge each other based on their actions instead of their looks is sounding more and more like a utopian daydream in the age of airbrushing, cosmetic surgery, and Tik Tok. If you complain about how everyone seems to care about looks at the expense of all other personal characteristics, the response will probably be, “What did you expect when you moved to Los Angeles?” Employment discrimination laws attempt to protect employees from their employers’ worst impulses by outlining an ever-growing list of protected characteristics based on which employers may not refuse to hire employees or treat them less favorably than they treat employees who do not possess this characteristic. If your employer has reacted negatively to your physical appearance and you want to know more about the courses of action available to you, contact a Los Angeles discrimination and harassment lawyer.
Physical Appearance Is Not a Protected Characteristic, but It Can Be a Proxy for One
Employers may use their assessment of job candidates’ qualifications, as well as their own perceptions of the candidate’s character and abilities, to make hiring decisions, and they may award promotions based on job performance. Decisions to hire, fire, promote, demote, or otherwise make decisions related to the candidate’s employment cannot be based on protected characteristics. Physical appearance is not, by itself, a protected characteristic. If an employer refuses to hire you or otherwise takes an adverse action against you because of your appearance, you may have grounds for a discrimination complaint based on one of the following protected characteristics:
- Race – It is against the law to discriminate against employees based on skin color and other racially associated physical characteristics.
- Age – If you are at least 40 and your employer gives preferential treatment to employees who look younger, you may be able to claim age discrimination.
- Gender presentation – Case law has interpreted sex discrimination to include discrimination based on gender presentation, which includes a person’s perceived masculine or feminine appearance. Several years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman who sued her employer because her supervisors always gave her negative performance reviews, complaining that her hairstyle and style of dress were unladylike.
- Disability – Some chronic health conditions affect a person’s physical appearance. If the aspect of your appearance was due to a disability, it is against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of it.
An employment discrimination lawyer can help you make the strongest possible case in your discrimination complaint.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer
A Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer can help you if your employer took an adverse action against you because of your physical appearance. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.