"If You're Not Good-Looking, You Can't Work Here"

Kristina Finseth

 

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of buzz in the news about employers and their allegedly controversial hiring practices. It’s no surprise that bias, harassment, and other issues arise in the workplace, but more and more companies are gaining publicity for hiring only good-looking people.

Of course, the legality around companies hiring based on looks is debatable, but here’s a look at some employers who have gotten themselves in the news as a result of their questionable hiring behaviors.

NBC In recent news, Stephanie Belanger, a previous employee at NBC, claims that she was asked to supply photos to prove she was “good-looking” during her initial recruiting process. In order to get past the recruiter and onto an interview, she had to share her Facebook and Instagram profiles to the recruiter. On top of a superficial hiring process, Stephanie claims she was subjected to sexual harassment from her supervisor, eventually being fired because “his girlfriend would break up with him” otherwise.

It sounds crazy, but this happens more than it should, and NBC isn’t the only potentially negligent employer to incorporate “out of line” hiring practices.

American Apparel Back in 2010, an email was leaked that shared hiring practices and grooming standards for the retail chain, American Apparel. As part of their hiring practice, hiring managers must take a close up photo of the candidate’s face as well as a clear full body photo. Candidates are then judged based on their looks and style, being denied opportunities for something as ridiculous as their hair, a nose piercing or overall style.

CEZ A Czech nuclear power station made news a couple of months ago for using a swimsuit contest to hire interns. As part of the contest, they took the top ten recent high school graduates, and posted their bikini-clad photos on their Facebook page. The girl with the most likes would land a two-week internship as a result.

CEZ apologized a couple days later, offering all ten “contestants” internships with the company.

Prada The luxury retailer made the news in 2010 for demoting or transferring fifteen women in one of its Japan locations, claiming they were “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.” Of course, Prada ultimately won the case by court decision in Tokyo, and decided to countersue the lawsuit ringleader, Rina Bovrisse, for $780,000 for damaging the brand’s reputation.

As of 2013, the UN decided to back the former Prada employee, and she even announced running for Governor of Tokyo in 2020.

These are just some of the examples of companies making the news for their alleged hiring practices. It’s clear to see that it’s a global issue, and because of the debatable nature of legality, it doesn’t seem that it’s going away anytime soon.