Can I hire someone because he or she is attractive?

California employers have a lot to think about when it comes to hiring workers. They think about pay and benefits, and they want to be sure employees are capable of the job and are a good fit for the company. However, other factors may come into play during the hiring process, and they may have almost nothing to do with a person's work ethic.

In some cases, these factors cannot legally be used as a reason to hire or not hire someone; in other cases, they can. For instance, as discussed in this article, hiring a person because he or she is attractive falls into something of a legal gray area.

When hiring good-looking employees may be lawful

Certain industries recognize appearance standards, especially in the entertainment industry here in California. Fashion, TV, film, advertising and similar industries often consider attractiveness as much of a qualification for a job as anything else when it is necessary for the role. In theory, it makes sense that a person can be hired based on physical attractiveness.

When hiring good-looking employees may be unlawful

This issue can get more complicated when putting it into practice. This is because an employer's opinion of attractiveness could be discriminatory. Hiring someone based on their skin color, body type, age, gender or other elements of attraction can quickly cross the line into race, disability, age or gender discrimination.

Talk to an attorney to know the difference

Hiring and firing decisions can come under scrutiny when they are unpopular, unusual or seemingly unfair, which can lead to administrative agency complaints and lawsuits. Because of this, it can be critical for employers to consult an attorney experienced in counseling both small and large businesses in employment matters prior to making any potentially controversial or even illegal employment decisions - especially in California where workers' rights are particularly protected and the damages and penalties to California employers can be extreme.

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