Washington Law Review


The consideration of appearance in employment decisionmaking context is prevalent and widely accepted. Nonetheless, statutory protection against such discrimination remains limited. Federal protection applies only to claims related to already-protected categories of discrimination, including disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and age. Only one state and a small number of cities and counties explicitly prohibit appearance discrimination in employment. This Comment argues that consideration of appearance in employment decisions is not justified, rational, or beneficial to society unless a bona fide occupational qualification or reasonable business purpose exists. States should adopt statutory protection for appearance to.protect otherwise qualified applicants and employees from arbitrary and harmful discrimination. This protection will promote the practice of hiring and retaining employees based solely on relevant qualifications and criteria. It also will assist in repairing the inequities that result from the legitimizing of appearance discrimination in employment, as well as in society as a whole.

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