Discrimination is an incredibly pervasive problem in the professional world. Some states still don’t protect gay or transgender people from getting fired over their sexual orientation and gender identity, and it can be frustratingly difficult to get a real-world job if you don’t have the “right” name. And now, we can all worry about yet another unfair reason for losing a job: Being too attractive.
This week, a Manhattan judge ruled that attractiveness-based discrimination does not really exist — at least not in the eyes of the law. The case involved Dilek Edwards, who back in 2013 joined a chiropractic practice run by Charles Nicolai and his wife, Stephanie Adams, a former Playboy playmate. According to Edwards, she was told early on by Nicolai that Adams “might become jealous” because Edwards was “too cute.” (That warning was basically by-the-book sexual harassment, but moving on…) Nicolai turned out to be right, and before long Edwards received a text message from Adams telling her to “stay the f**k way from my husband and family.”
According to Edwards, nothing unprofessional ever happened between her and Nicolai, but that didn’t stop her from being fired in October 2013. So, the now-yoga teacher filed a lawsuit claiming that her former employers had discriminated against her based on “a gender-related aspect of her appearance,” or her attractiveness. As she points out, “attractiveness is directly tied to…gender,” and had she been a man, this never would have happened.
Unfortunately, the judge in the case, Shlomo Hagler, did not take Edward’s side because (1) “courts have not found discrimination when the subject conduct or policy was not applied differently to men and women,” and (2) there’s no protection for those who are fired over “spousal jealousy alone.”
In other words, because the law doesn’t protect people from getting fired over their attractiveness and/or spousal jealousy, Edwards didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.