U-M Prof: You Can Be Fired For Being Unattractive

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) If you’re feeling not so attractive these days and wondering if it could affect your job, the answer from University of Michigan Law School Professor Emeritus Theodore St. Antoine is … yes.

It could even cost you your job. St. Antoine says in the U.S., private employers can fire workers for a host of unprotected reasons because most of their employees are what’s called “at will.”

“You can be fired for being unattractive,” St. Antoine said. “Yes, you can. An employer can fire an employee because they just don’t think they’re handsome enough or pretty enough to be in their establishment.”

American Society of Employers President Michael Burns said the vast majority of employers won’t fire you for your looks, however, he added, “Certain industries put a particular brand or image together that an individual has to meet, and there are no protections for a person who may not meet that particular image.”

St. Antoine says the U.S. is the only industrialized democracy where private employers don’t need a just cause to fire their non-unionized employees. “An employer, for example, can fire an employee because he doesn’t like his political beliefs, which is shocking to most people.”

Most unions, St. Antoine said, will add the “just cause” clause to their contracts. And under Michigan law, there are several things you can’t be fired for. They include: religion, race, national origin, age, sex, height, weight or marital status.

More from Sandra McNeill
  • Boo

    “An employer, for example, can fire an employee because he doesn’t like his political beliefs, which is shocking to most people.”

    Yup and industries like Media and Universities ONLY hire people with liberal beliefs… but hey St. Antoine probably sees nothing wrong with that!

    • Leo

      A professor who teaches lies to his science class (such as teaching Creationism or saying that the earth is 6,000 years old) SHOULD be fired – not for being conservative, but for failing in his job to teach facts. Same thing with journalists who lie. And I’m sorry, but reality has a well-known liberal bias.

      • Mike

        What an idiotic comment leo.

  • roneida

    BUT, an employee has the right to quit with no reason and go away without penalty.

    If we want the world to be “fair ??” bioth sides in employment must have the same rights, ( except the military). Come and go as you please…this is America..no slavery, no forced employment.

    • David in SLC

      Except in the instance of non-compete clauses which can be found in virtually any specialist trade or management/executive employee handbook.

      I’m all for equity in employment agreements – not a fan of unions for example – but in the 20+ years I’ve been in the workforce I have seen a very strong trend that favors employers over employees.

      There is some relief in this aspect as courts have begun holding companies accountable for their firing policies that they publish and to which they themselves hold employees accountable. But this is only recently and is not universally applied.

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