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.

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