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Can I be Fired for Being Not Being Sexy Enough?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 06, 2011 6:49 AM

We've all heard stories about women being fired for being fat or not pretty enough.

These stories have moved beyond Hooters and have now hit Atlantic City's Resorts Casino Hotel, which is being sued for firing 15 middle-aged cocktail waitresses after they were deemed not sexy enough to pull off skimpy new uniforms.

Wondering whether you can legally be fired for being fat or unsexy? Unfortunately, it depends.

Technically, if your state does not bar appearance-based employment discrimination, yes, you may be fired for being fat or not sexy enough if that is the real reason for loss of employment.

The law permits employers to impose personal grooming restrictions and dress codes, which can expand to attractiveness and weight, even if not integral to employment.

However, employers are subject to sex and age discrimination laws, which are often implicated when someone is fired for being fat or unattractive. This is the argument being made in the lawsuit filed by the Resorts casino waitresses.

Appearance-based terminations almost exclusively fall on the shoulders of female employees, implicating sex discrimination law when male employees don't have similar requirements. Moreover, sex stereotypes involving how women should look tend to underlay these decisions.

Age discrimination also comes into play, as older women have drastically different bodies than 18-year-olds, and don't normally fit the mainstream definition of sexy. If appearance requirements are age-dependent, they could run afoul of the law.

So, if you've been fired for being overweight or unattractive, and think that the decision was discriminatory in nature, contact an employment lawyer. You may have a claim.

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