Should the law recognize a separate cause of action for “looks discrimination?” Explain.

Looks Discrimination Harrah’s Reno, Nevada, casino instituted a “Personal Best” appearance policy requiring its female bartenders to wear makeup while prohibiting their male counterparts from wearing any. After a successful 20-year career as a Harrah’s bartender, Darlene Jespersen was fired for refusing to wear makeup under the policy. Brenna Lewis staffed the front desks of Heartland Inn motels near Des Moines, Iowa, including its Ankeny, Iowa, location. Her performance was excellent, earning her compliments from customers and merit raises. Heartland’s new corporate director of operations, Barbara Cullinan, had approved hiring Lewis for a full-time position staffing the Ankeny motel’s front desk during the day, but Cullinan became dissatisfied after seeing Lewis in person. Cullinan was heard saying that Heartland staff should be “pretty,” especially those working at the front desk. Lewis was self-described as “slightly more masculine.” She avoided makeup and often wore her hair short. The front desk job description in Heartland’s personnel manual did not mention appearance, stating only that a guest service representative must create “a warm, inviting atmosphere” and perform tasks such as relaying information and receiving reservations. Cullinan instituted a policy requiring videotaping of interviews for front desk hires. Over protests of her direct manager, Lewis was eventually fired. Both Jespersen and Lewis brought Title VII claims against their former employers. Questions 1. What do these cases have in common? How do they differ? Explain. Decide each case. 2. Should the law recognize a separate cause of action for “looks discrimination?” Explain.


 

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