03/23/2005: So...What do YOU wear to Work?
Found this interesting tid-bit on US News Wire:
The latest national survey by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) reveals a nation deeply divided over regulating appearance –- from weight to clothing, hairstyles to body piercing -- in the U.S. workplace, it was announced today. As the debate intensifies, more than half of those surveyed said their employers had no policy addressing employee personal appearance.
The "America At Work" poll questioned 1,000 Americans on their views on appearance-based discrimination as employer-employee disputes increase, and frequently spill over into the courts and government enforcement agencies. The rash of recent cases include an Atlantic City casino sued over a requirement that cocktail waitresses undergo weekly weigh ins; a challenge based on religious beliefs to a national superstore chain’s prohibition on "visible facial or tongue jewelry (earrings excepted)"; and a $40 million settlement involving a national, trendy clothing retailer accused of appearance-based personnel practices.
Stephen J. Hirschfeld, Esquire, CEO of ELA and a partner in the San Francisco-based law firm of Curiale, Dellaverson, Hirschfeld, and Kraemer, said claims involving alleged appearance or personal-style discrimination are surging.
"On the surface this may look like another symptom of a litigious society, but it goes much deeper than that as employers and employees struggle over the authority of management to ensure customer satisfaction versus an employee’s right to, for instance, sport a nose ring and a tongue stud while taking orders at the local fast-food restaurant," said Hirschfeld, head of the world’s largest practice network of labor and employment attorneys.
Here are the major findings of the poll, which has a confidence interval of plus or minus 3.1 percent, and was conducted over a recent weekend by the Media, Pa. market research firm of Reed, Haldy, McIntosh & Associates of a representative national sample of the adult population.
-- 39 percent said employers should have the right to deny employment to someone based on appearance, including weight, clothing, piercing, body art, or hair style.
-- 33 percent said that in their own workplace workers who are physically attractive are more likely to be hired and promoted.
-- 33 percent said workers who are unattractive, overweight, or generally look or dress unconventionally, should be given special government legal protection such as that given persons with disabilities.
-- Of the 39 percent who said employers should have the right to deny employment based on looks, men outnumbered women 46 percent to 32 percent. And whites outnumbered non-whites 41 percent to 24 percent.
The workers were not only asked their opinion on this simmering issue, they were asked if they had any relevant personal experience.
-- 16 percent said they had been the victim of appearance- based discrimination.
-- Of those, 38 percent said the discrimination was based on their overall appearance while 31 percent said it was their weight, and 14 percent said it was a reaction to their hairstyle.
-- 33 percent of those saying they had been discriminated against said it was for some other reason.
Hirschfeld said the poll found that supervisors are much more likely than non-supervisors to support a policy permitting companies to regulate personal appearance. The survey found that 47 percent of the supervisors surveyed said employers should have the right to deny employment based on looks, while 35 percent of the non-supervisors supported that position.
"The most surprising finding in the poll might be that roughly half the nation’s employers have absolutely no policy or regulation that addresses this extraordinarily complex yet important issue in the American workplace," explained Hirschfeld. "While most of the employee claims in the past have involved direct-customer contact businesses like retailing, restaurants, and transportation, we’re now seeing image or appearance-based claims in virtually every area. While the law is changing, employers have to focus on the requirements of the position when making personnel decisions if they are going to be able to successfully defend themselves against a discrimination claim."
The Employment Law Alliance is the worlds’ largest integrated, global practice network and is comprised of premier, independent law firms distinguished for their practice in employment and labor law. There are member firms in every jurisdiction in the United States and major commercial centers throughout the world.
Courtesy of US News Wire.
Karen on 03.23.05 @ 05:45 AM CST