A recruitment website has been heavily criticised for posting a job advertisement stating “physical attractiveness is unfortunately necessary for this role”. Not only is this discrimination towards the candidates who are unsuccessful for the position, but also because it is only available for women and not men. The £10 an hour waitressing job at the House of Wax, London states another key requirement for the job is for females to be comfortable in wearing heels, which in itself is discriminatory towards anybody with a disability.
The advert was shared on social media and angry Twitter users, including Nicola Thorp stated the job advertisement is unacceptable in every way and “in breach of an Equality Act or two…”. Ms Thorp hit the national headlines last year after she was sent home from her job as a receptionist for refusing to wear high-heels. The Government had rejected her appeal in April of this year to outlaw a sexist dress code, enabling employers to force females to wear high heels as a part of their uniform to work. However, current employment law voices employers must not imply or state that they will discriminate against an individual or a group of people.
Responding to the complaints regarding the ad, a spokesperson from Reed.co.uk has reassured the public “a number of steps [are put] in place to ensure jobs advertised with us comply with all appropriate legislation, are non-discriminatory and, of course, genuine”. The ad has since been removed and the owners of the London bar have been contacted so “they are made fully aware of relevant legislation affecting their recruitment”.
There are many risks relating to discrimination that are highlighted in the Shoreditch job advertisement. The vacancy states employees must be “extremely attractive” which is highly subjective and discriminative. How can an individual measure physical attractiveness? Also a job should never make you think “Am I attractive enough?” Turning away staff members for not being ‘attractive’ will create problems itself. The majority of customers would rather deal with an employee who has an understanding and knowledge of what they’re doing rather than someone who is considered more physically appealing.
The job vacancy is only available for women and not men which can create problems in itself because working as a waitress/waiter at a bar doesn’t apply to just one gender. No job should. This has detrimental ramifications and will no doubt cause damage to the London bar’s reputation, meaning customers may not choose to go there, losing them business. They should have policies in place that are equally applied to both genders and don’t disregard either the Equality Act or the Discrimination Act.
Finally, an employer should never discriminate against someone if they have a disability. A key requirement of this job vacancy is for women to wear high heels when in some cases, disabled people may not be able to wear them. This goes against the Disability Discrimination Act which creates further problems for the business.
It is highly advisable to have not set any of the above criteria for any job description as it is morally wrong and discriminates against a large amount of people. The backlash from all of this has been widely negative and it isn’t commercially sensible to pin the success of your business on looking good.
If you would like advice on what is the best way to construct a job advert, or indeed put together an equal opportunities policy, please contact a member of the HPC team on 0844 800 5932 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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