17th Aug 2012 9:56am | By Laura Chubb
Aussie clothing company General Pants has been accused of 'lookism' - hiring only good-looking sales staff.
Much like US company Abercrombie & Fitch, it seems General Pants has a 'no uglies' policy, populating its stores with beautiful young things only.
Indeed, Us label Abercrombie & Fitch was forced to pay out US$50m after it was established it had been recruiting shop assistants for their looks. See the paradigm of the Abercrombie & Fitch 'look' above.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that, while General Pants was not available to comment on whether it had a 'hotties only' policy, the company could be sued for discrimination if it was established that it did.
The state of Victoria is reportedly the only jurisdiction outside of the US where employees can sue their bosses for discrimination based on appearance.
Since the law was introduced in 1995, there have been 1800 lookism inquiries lodged, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In states where lookism isn't technically illegal, cases can be made by suing under other legislation, such as sex or disability discrimination.
The University of Sydney has just put together a report on employee awareness of lookism in Australia. It found that, in 1995, enquiries to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission showed lookism was the 13th most-common subject of enquiry.
Ten years later, it had jumped to seventh most-commom.
Co-author of the study Chris Warhurst told the Sydney Morning Herald: "More men are making claims and the ratio is now a third of claims made by men.”
Could the demand for ab-tastic shop assistants in the likes of General Pants and Abercrombie & Fitch be the problem?
One thing seems to be for sure - lookism is a growing concern for employees, which means we can expect to see more lookism cases in the future.
But does that mean 'ugly discrimination' is soon to be a feature on everyone's legislates? As the New York Times asked after a spate of lookism cases: “Why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?”