Hiring Discrimination


……sorry about the picture …. I had to!

There are many regulations set on hiring.  The government clearly has recognized that this is a problem and there are currently many regulations in place protecting individuals against this type of discrimination.  My idea for this Paper stemmed from my Paper 2 research topic of the ethical performance of Hooters.  While researching I came across many different articles of many different companies currently using questionable practices. I am interested in this topic because while there is a plethora of regulations regarding discrimination of hiring, there is one huge grey area that is an increasing problem.  Hiring for attractiveness.  It is innate in human nature to lean towards a more attractive person/candidate, and currently this isn’t considered illegal.  Many companies – airlines, clothing stores, restaurants – all hire attractive workers and claim that is part of their ‘marketing scheme’ in order to get more customers.  But is this ethical?  Should policies be made against this?

The EEOC, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, focuses on discrimination of age, disability, equal compensation, genetic information, national origin, race/color, pregnancy, religion, retaliation, sex, and sexual harassment.  “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.”  The EEOC investigates different companies that have been claimed to be using discriminatory policies.  The EEOC’s current initiatives are LEAD, focusing on American’s with disabilities, Youth@Work, focusing on the next generation of workers, and E-RACE focusing on color and race discrimination.  There are many different cases of businesses looking at this type of discrimination, and they are the kinds we commonly hear about in the media.

Here you can read about the current laws that are enforced by the EEOC.  Each of the laws is described in details about the different discrimination types listed above.  None of these laws however deal with a growing problem in the US.  Hiring based on how attractive a candidate is.  Can the Government regulate this?  What kind of policies should/would they introduce in order to regulate this?

The Government’s current position on attractiveness is that if the attractiveness of the employee is extremely related to the function of the business, but not simply to promote the essence of a company.  For example, modeling agencies hire men and women that they find attractive and this is okay because it is the primary function of the business.  But the primary function of a store like Abercrombie and Fitch hires employees to sell and fold clothes, and help customers – functions that a person doesn’t need to be attractive to complete.  The primary function of Hooters employees is to serve food, a person shouldn’t be discriminated against for their level of attractiveness in order to serve food.

If attractiveness discrimination can be linked to one of these discrimination types, looked at by the EEOC, than the EEOC can investigate and, if necessary, pursue legal matters.  For example, with Hooters (which I wrote Paper 2 on) doesn’t discriminate on race but clearly discriminates based on sexual appeal.  The EEOC has investigated Hooters for their discrimination against hiring male employees, in which Hooters slightly mended their hiring practices to hire male bartenders and hosts but still are keeping their classic women waitresses.  If a woman doesn’t fit the ‘look’ that Hooters is going for, she won’t get the job.  This includes physical body shape, looks, as well as personality.  They are looking for All-American Cheerleader type women and they say that this is part of their marketing appeal.  But what is a less attractive woman is more qualified and has more experience?  Shouldn’t they be the one that is hired?

For the White Paper I will look at Hiring Discrimination based on attractiveness through a Business, Government, and Society perspective.  Above I have began looking at the Government perspective through an organization that is constantly investigating employment discrimination.  I will look at the Business perspective from businesses that clearly think this practice is okay as they engage in it.  While I have just researched Hooters I may stay away from that company and look closer at some airlines and Abercrombie&Fitch, etc.  The society perspective I’m sure will be the most interesting as there is a lot of material about this issue.  As it is constantly growing to be a more common problem, I think it will be interesting to look more into.  While I do not know yet what policies I think should be made in order to avoid this problem, I think I will look more into the idea of “function” vs. “essence” and how these can be defined and determined by the Government or EEOC.

For now, my audience is going to be companies that think this hiring practice is ethical.  I will research companies, and different perspectives on this issue and then form a governmental policy that could be put in place in order to better companies’ hiring practices.


One thought on “Hiring Discrimination

  1. Great. Very thorough background.

    Do you think that the current policy is ok? Or does it further the oppression of women according to arbitrary ideals of beauty? In a way, if the Hooters look is so prized, they should probably earn MORE. The combo of prettiness discrimination and the devaluation of feminine work is like a double whammy for the women in the breastaurants.

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