Title

Looks-Based Hiring and Wrongful Discrimination

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 12-1-2015

Department

Philosophy and Religion

School

Humanities

Abstract

Popular clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) is well‐known for hiring attractive store sales clerks. While the economic benefits of this hiring practice for the company are undeniable, many commentators contend that it constitutes wrongful discrimination against unattractive job seekers. In this article, I explore the ethics of A&F‐style lookism and challenge two common perspectives on this issue. I argue that on one hand, looks‐based hiring cannot be defended based on its economic benefits alone, as race‐based hiring also can be profitable in some circumstances. At the same time, I reject arguments that looks‐based hiring is not “job relevant” given its economic impact in many contexts. Through a comparison between race‐ and looks‐based hiring, I conclude that at least for businesses that are relevantly similar to A&F—firms for which lookism produces clear economic benefits—looks‐based hiring is permissible.

Publication Title

Business and Society Review

Volume

120

Issue

4

First Page

607

Last Page

635

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