Poll: Public Divided on Regulating Appearance in the Office

Most would agree that nose rings and obesity are more common than ever in the U.S. workplace, but a new survey says the nation is divided over whether employers should have the right to ban body piercings or compel large-framed employees to drop weight.

In the survey released today, 39 percent said employers should have the right to deny employment to someone based on appearance, including weight, clothing, piercings, body art or hairstyle.

The survey comes as employer-employee disputes over appearance increasingly spill into the courts and government enforcement agencies. A rash of recent cases includes an Atlantic City casino sued over a requirement that cocktail waitresses undergo weekly weigh-ins and a national superstore challenged for its prohibition on "visible facial or tongue jewelry (earrings excepted)."

"Appearance discrimination is an issue employers have struggled with for decades, yet few companies have put policies in place to guide managers on how to govern their employees' appearance," said Henry M. Perlowski, co-chair of the Employment Law Team at Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP. "It would behoove any company to address its stance on employee appearance with formal policies and open communication, as the litigation route can be costly and disruptive."

A few findings from the survey:

  • 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.

You may like these other stories...

Hertz and Icahn make peaceThere won’t be any nasty, protracted proxy battle between Hertz Global Holdings and activist investor Carl Icahn. The rental car chain agreed last Thursday to give Icahn – who has...
Following other recent high-profile hacking events, investigators discovered yesterday that hackers broke into the draft work paper files of several famous CPA firms. Revealing images of the scantily clad documents have been...
Majority of House of Representatives urges leadership to preserve cash method of accounting for tax purposesA bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives – 233 members – has signed a letter urging House...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 18
In this course, Amber Setter will shine the light on different types of leadership behavior- an integral part of everyone's career.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.