June 22, 2010
In an unusual twist in so-called “appearance discrimination”, a woman named Debrahlee Lorenzana sued Citibank, claiming she was discriminated against based upon her physical attractiveness. The complaint, which can be found at 2009 WL 4241578 alleges discrimination and retaliation in violation of the New York City Human’s Rights Law.
This case is interesting on several levels. First, while appearance discrimination certainly is not a new topic in employment law, the majority of this litigation has revolved around allegations that plaintiff received less favorable treatment than other, more “attractive” people. Secondly, being attractive has traditionally been considered an asset, not a liability, in employment decisions.
Several good articles on this subject can be located by running a search for ti(appearance-discrimination) within the Journals & Law Reviews (JLR) data base. Whatever its outcome, this particular case will certainly be analyzed in any future discussions of appearance discrimination.