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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Employee Rights: Is Appearance Discrimination Against the Law?

By Dan Atkerson on March 27, 2017

Appearance discrimination may be discrimination under Title VIISome employees and jobseekers may be discriminated against the for the way they look. For example, an employee at a clothing retailer may be moved to the stockroom, or a business may refuse to hire someone because they are unattractive. Is this legal? In most cases, there are no legal protections for workers experiencing appearance discrimination. There are rare exceptions to this rule.

Only a few places in the U.S. have laws on the books that ban appearance discrimination. Texas is not one of those places. There are situations where discrimination based on appearance could run afoul of federal and state law. In some cases, it may be discrimination against a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co has faced several lawsuits where employees claimed the company discriminated against their appearance due to their race or religion. In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States found Abercrombie & Fitch may have violated workplace discrimination laws when it refused to hire a Muslim woman who wore a hijab.

Employees also sued the company in 2003, claiming managers moved Hispanic, African American and Asian workers to the stockroom. According to the employees, they were told by managers they did not meet the “A & F look.” The case was settled for $40 million in late 2004.

Sometimes Appearance Discrimination is Discrimination Under Title VII

Appearance discrimination may be discrimination under Title VII and the Texas Labor Code. Workers who are targeted with workplace discrimination may have options to pursue damages against their employers.

Texas discrimination attorney Dan A. Atkerson has spent decades fighting for the rights of workers. If you have been unfairly targeted with workplace discrimination, he can help you explore possible options for seeking justice.

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