Recent Lawsuits Fuel Debate Over Whether Appearance-Based Discrimination Should Be Illegal

By: Elizabeth Tom Arce
California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog, January 11, 2011

Two headline making lawsuits ignited a national debate over whether it should be illegal for an employer to make employment decisions based on an employee's appearance.  The Wall Street Journal reported that Cassandra Marie Smith filed a lawsuit against her former employer, Hooters, alleging that restaurant management told her during a performance evaluation to join a gym in order to "lose weight and improve her looks so that she would better" fit into the uniform she was required to wear.  Smith also claims she was required to sign an agreement placing her on "weight probation" as a condition of staying employed.

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