Discrimination on the basis of attractiveness/physical appearance

It seems that in the wake of banning employment discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, handicap, etc., that a next logical step would be to ban employment discrimination on the basis of physical attractiveness. There’s no denying that attractive people have a considerable advantage over ugly people, and that such discrimination is unfair.
But *practically *speaking, is this enforceable? How would this be proven in court? Beauty is subjective and in the eyes of the beholder, so would a court have a jury vote on the plaintiff’s attractiveness (“No, you’re not uglier than the applicant who got accepted, so you don’t have a case?”)

I’m willing to accept the first part of this, but not the second. Life is unfair, but it’s not necessarily discrimination.

I mean in the context of employment.

What definition are you using for “discrimination”?

To discriminate means to make a distinction and act on it. It doesn’t have to be conscious, and it doesn’t have to be unfair or unjust.

We often use the term as a synonym for “unfair discrimination” but that’s not what it means.

Or perhaps you meant that discriminating based on attractiveness isn’t unfair. That’s a debatable topic, to be sure. Certainly we do it when choosing dating partners, and no doubt that’s why the OP limited this to employment – but it could also apply to sale of a home and other business activities.

What about areas where attractiveness is important? Can someone sue Playboy because they wouldn’t publish her spread? (Yes, pun intended.) What about actresses? Then you open up law suits where a worker claims they were fired for being unattractive with no support.

I just don’t see it as workable, nor do I see it worth the effort.

I don’t buy that it’s the next logical step.

You are correct, my objection was to the term “unfair” used by the OP.

No. Attractive things make life worth living. People like seeing aesthetically pleasing things, which is why people visit museums, wear flattering clothing, pay money for art and enjoy nice architecture. Attractive things, and that includes people, make life better. As shitty as it is to say, society is better off when better looking people are more visible and less attractive people are less visible.

Now, you could argue that the benefit from increased “fairness” outweighs making the world a less beautiful place, I guess.

Practically speaking, there’s also going to be a big flaw in enforcement, which is that businesses can generally justify discrimination if they can prove in a court that the discrimination is a “business necessity”. So, for example, a business could legally reject a minority candidate as an actor for a white character in a play, or refuse to hire a wheelchair-bound person to be a lumberjack. The difficulty, though, is that many jobs have a component where attractiveness improves job performance. Surely everyone agrees that a movie be allowed to hire attractive actors. But should an attractive PR spokesman be a justifiable reason to discriminate? How about a secretary? Any public-facing job, like sales or retail work? This line is going to be very hard to define, and that’s going to both make the law ineffectual and costly for employers to implement.

Speaking as a member of the appearance-challenged community …

You’d have to start by defining attractive. In other categories you are clearly one or another, but how many milli-Helens makes you attractive. (MilliHelen - face can launch one ship of course.) What about the problem that for some jobs attractiveness is a plus, but for others it is a minus? Who is the protected class here? Everyone?

You can throw an unattractive vase that someone gave you in the closet. You can’t do the same for an unattractive in-law. So I don’t think our desire for attractive surroundings is relevant.

There are already exemptions for modeling and theatrical casting. If you want to stage an “all-black remake of Casablanca,” you’re allowed to.

The obvious difficulty in this, as in other anti-discrimination cases, is proof. At times, the offenders make this easy for us, by actually saying stupid things like, “Of course I fired him; he’s Hungarian.”

There have been a number of stories over the years of women being fired for being too attractive. Even a court case.

Lookism is similar to racial discrimination in that it is often self-perpetuating. A person who is attractive is perceived as more intelligent and hard-working, so they are given all the best assignments and job duties. Everyone always tells them how smart and capable they are, so they’ve got a lot of self-confidence and ambition.Then when promotion time comes, they end up getting the job not because they are attractive, but because their resume actually is superior to everyone else’s and they’ve got the right attitude.

You’re not going to be able to stop lookism with institutional policies. But I think individuals can do their part by being thoughtful about their decision-making.

Once Velocity’s proposal becomes the norm, we can go full-on Harrison Bergeron.

Not really. I think that race, sexual orientation, physical handicap, and other categories are far from clear. To take just one well-known example, Elizabeth Warren listed herself as an ethnic minority when applying for law school jobs. She may have been hired partially because of that, and her presence at Harvard Law School was cited as proof of progress towards ethnic diversity. Yet she has no documentation of her claim to be part Cherokee Indian, and at other times listed herself as white. So is she “clearly” white, or “clearly” a minority?

About the bold text above: I don’t think we can accept it as an article a faith that attractive people have an advantage AND that nobody can say for certain who is and isn’t attractive.

You could look at some of the components. Generally speaking, people associate tallness with attractiveness. Tall people also get paid more than short people, on average, so there may well be real discrimination at work.

On could, presumably, do a statistical analysis on a business to see if they pay/promote tall people more after correcting for age/education/etc.

The notion of legislating for or against attractiveness is outright ludicrous.

That said, attractive privilege is one of the ways the practice of decreasing wages for waitstaff to allow for tipping is discriminatory. Freakonomics did a great episode on it.

In some jobs, attractiveness would be a qualification. Leaving aside those sorts of jobs, nobody who was actually serious about business would hire an attractive person over an unattractive person if the unattractive person was clearly better. They’d be saddling themselves with an inferior employee, and giving their competition and upper hand.

No. A next logical step would be to roll back some of those areas where the state assume to dictate free citizens what they can and cannot do.

There absolutely is denying that. Especially beautiful women are so defined by their apperance that they’ll have a strong handicap in many areas of work. But also in general they seem to be handicapped even before being given a chance for an interview by (female) HR. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful