Women have faced a whole lot of discrimination in the workplace that men will never understand. We’re sexually harassed more often (79 percent of sexual harassment victims are female, while 17 percent are male, AWARE reports) we’re judged by what we wear, and, oh yeah, we’re paid less than men are (women of color face even worse discrimination in the workplace — according to American Progress, Hispanic or Latina women earned 54 percent of what men earned in 2013, black women earned 64 percent of what men earned that year, and white women earned 78 percent of what men earned).
A 24-year-old woman from London knows about this unfair treatment firsthand, since she was just fired from her job for — brace yourself — being too attractive. We swear we didn’t just make that up.
Emma Hulse is a camera operator who freelances for TV companies in London, and when she arrived at a recent 8.5 hour shift at UNIT TV, she received a text from her agent telling her she was no longer needed at the job. That’s when she approached the manager, who accused her of looking like a model.
Emma told the Evening Standard about the experience. “I got there and spoke to the line manager and he asked me, ‘are you a model? Are you not doing catwalks, why are you not at the front of house?’” she said.
She was subsequently sent home, which is the first time she’s ever been asked to leave work because of her appearance. “I was wearing a lipstick, but from my perspective I was not inappropriate. I was wearing a shirt and trousers. I really didn’t think I looked inappropriate,” she said.
There’s no doubt Emma is gorgeous, but what does that have to do with her being able to perform her job? We don’t even think the manager had an answer to that question, because as soon as he fired her, he asked for her number and suggested they go out for drinks.
The owner and CEO of UNIT TV, Adam Luckwell, told the Evening Standard that the manager in question was put on a three-month probation period and fired afterwards. “We decided not to continue with the employment and terminated the contract within three months,” he said. “We felt he was a bad fit for us and some of the things he was doing was not in line with the company’s policy.”
HelloGiggles also had the chance to speak with Adam Luckwell via email, who said the manager who fired Emma was only working for UNIT TV for less than three months, and such behavior was not (and will not be) condoned by the company. “Unit takes any accusation of discrimination on any ground very seriously, it is in direct contravention of the company’s policies and against the underlying ethos of the company,” Luckwell says.
“I was not aware that the situation had occurred with Emma Hulse, so cannot comment on that specific case,” he also says. “If Ms. Hulse has experienced any distress from dealing with a member of the company’s staff we would like to sincerely apologise.”
As for Emma, she’s (rightfully) baffled that this happened to her. “Especially within a creative agency you should be free to wear what you want,” she said.
For now, it seems that Emma will not be returning to her job (which we totally get), regardless of the fate of the manager who fired her.