Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Too-Pretty Protected Class?

Last month, I blogged about the Un-pretty Protected Class - an argument for protecting the less attractive from employment discrimination. Little did I know that there was an even bigger problem brewing: discrimination against the overly attractive! Business Insider has the scoop on Woman Says Citibank Fired Her Because She Was Too Hot.

Now, before you roll your eyes... too late? OK, well now that you've had a chance to roll your eyes, read this brilliant (and I am not being sarcastic) comment from the "hot" woman:
Where I'm from, women dress up—like put on makeup and do their nails—to go to the supermarket... I was raised very Latin. We're feminine. A woman in Puerto Rico takes care of herself.
Do you see what just happened there?

You see, the headline is that she's "too hot" (not a protected class); but she frames the problem as her employer not allowing her to be feminine, the way women from Puerto Rico are... you know, Latin women. All of a sudden we have possible sex, gender-stereotyping, color, race, and maybe even national origin*-based discrimination claims! All of which are protected under Title VII.

Sometimes, it's all in the way you frame the issue!

HT: Stephanie Thomas aka ProactiveStats via Twitter.

*Some courts have assumed arguendo that Puerto Rican is a "national origin" for Title VII claims; see Feliciano de la Cruz v. El Conquistador Resort and Country Club, 218 F.3d 1 (2000).

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.