Personal Appearance and the Law

Date: Nov 4, 2022 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Location: Online

Event Code: I122322

Areas of Law: Labor & Employment

(More Information)





Jordan Dunbar
Jordan Dunbar
Angela V. McKnight
Angela V. McKnight
Tracy Sanders
Tracy Sanders

“The world will always tell you that you're something else, that you're too dark, too short, whatever. We need to show Black men and women are emotional, are strong, are smart, intuitive." – Beyoncé

In this follow-up to “Natural Hair and the Law,” Tracy Sanders takes a deep dive into discrimination based on hair, clothes, tattoos, piercings and other ethnic or fashion choices that may lead to appearance discrimination.

Many potential employees object to being evaluated for employment opportunities based on how they look. Most employees prefer to be assessed based on their performance, skills, and capabilities. However, like it or not, professional appearance is important, and people do judge others on their looks.

The concept of “appearance discrimination” has been building over the past ten years, with the EEOC indicating that a record number of “appearance discrimination”-related cases have been asserted against employers since 2010. Given the lack of a specific federal “appearance discrimination” law, claims involving such issues are typically couched in the context of prohibited race, sex, or disability discrimination. Over the past several decades, such cases decided under federal law generally appear to be moving toward a growing acceptance of “appearance discrimination”-type cases, specifically where the “appearance discrimination” can be tied to the employee’s status as a member of a protected class.

As human resources professionals, supervisors, managers, employees, and counsel - how do we deal with individuals who do not adhere to the company dress and groom codes by wearing cultural clothing, ethnic hairstyles, tattoos, headwraps, hats, or jewelry in the workplace? This may present legal issues especially if there are factors to consider such as race, sex, disability, or religious beliefs.

Hear Tracy as she takes us through the history of appearance discrimination, analyzes the current state of the law and provides insight into what employers and supervisors must know about the law, and how those representing employees can best represent them when facing appearance bias.

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