Looks-based discrimination rampant

by Cameron Edmond08 Aug 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission has revealed many workers are claiming discrimination based on their weight, tattoos, hair style or body odour.

The last five years have seen 96 workers allege discrimination based on their appearance, ranging from discrimination for being “ugly” to having blonde hair.

One hundred and seven claims have been made based on obesity. Underweight claims have also been made (10), as well as 17 based on height. There have been 38 claims for hairstyles, with 22 claims related to discrimination due to body modifications (such as tattoos and piercings), with two based on body odour.

"I think many employers want employees with less tats and piercings, and clothes that are more modest than current fashion dictates,'' a manager from charity Dress for Success, who supply low-income women with office attire for interviews, told News Ltd.

Currently, Victoria is the only state which has discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on appearance. Despite this, ‘lookism’ can be difficult to prove.

"Employers generally are not so daft to say the reason you didn't get a job is because you've got a scar or a birthmark or you're not good-looking enough,'' Kamal Farouque, principle of employment law at Maurice Blackburn, said.

Farouque added workers outside of Victoria may be able to claim discrimination on the grounds of disability, as that may cover scars and birthmarks.

Carole Haddad, owner of Corcorz Hair Salon, defended her organisation’s policy on her staff’s presentation. "Absolutely, how could it not have an effect on our customers?" she said. "Our staff work so closely with our clients, things such as hygiene are so important."

Haddad added that she did not mind her staff having tattoos, but preferred facial piercings be kept to a maximum of two.

Previously, HC has reported on an organisation’s decision not to hire a woman due to her tattoo, as well as an American dental assistant being fired for being too attractive.


Is it always wrong to hire based on appearance? Let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comments.




  • by fred 3/11/2013 9:40:26 PM

    if you would like to work in the public eye think before you ink

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