Hiring on the Basis of Looks
Answer 1) There are different legal and ethical perspectives and aspects related to the case. While legally A&F might not have directly indulged in anything wrong since under the federal law, it is legal to consider physical appreance when making employment decisions (Fenton and Keller 2013), the company is indeed ethically wrong. The stereotyping ‘A&F look’ that necessarily considers classic American looks when gauging physical appearance is ethically incorrect to say the least. These ethical considerations embroil the company in the number of legal angles too like discrimination based on color, race, and gender; which are strictly prohibited under the law.
Answer 2) The “A&F” looks concept is incontrovertibly wrong and unethical. It breeds racism, favoritism, inequity and injustice. The company only considers traits like blond, blue-eyed, and preppy, all essential classic White American traits to be the benchmarks of ‘suitable physical appearance’ under its looks concept. This directly amounts to discrimination against all those who fail to match these appreance based traits and hence this concept promotes unfairness on the basis of race and color.
This concept sans the overt discrimination based on color and race is very popular among airlines. I have personally seen this concept in practice with several regional and international airlines where the staff has to adhere to uniformity when it comes to physical appearance but that concepts doesn’t make the selection of candidates mandatory based on certain appearance traits.
Answer 3) The hiring practices of A&F are very discriminatory and against the basic fabric of justice and equality which forms the soul of American democracy and its society. The hiring practices are unfair as they promote discrimination of color, race and nationality and being a cosmopolitan country with equal rights for that America is, this type of discrimination should be shunned and done away with. While it is understood that certain business might require smart and attractive people, company should be open to them from any section or part of the society.
The Abercrombie’s attitude and non-acceptance of guilt points out to its brazenness and no respect towards the law of land. The civil rights act of 1964 strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion and national origin (SPU 2013) and hence the A&F’s looks policy indirectly flouts the laws. The company should be prosecuted further and fined heavily to set a precedent for other countries to not to indulge in such discriminatory practices.
Answer 4) A&F and other big retailers like Benetton, Nike and GAP who indulge in such controversial hiring practices need a complete overhaul of their selection and recruitment process. First and foremost, the outlook of their selection committees needs to change and be more tolerant and just. Their looks concept has to be much more inclusive and should welcome good looking and smart people (since that is totally legal and per se their business requirements) across the races, nationalities and genders. They should frame their selection processes based on equality and justice for all.
Answer 5) Though A&F might not be legally wrong in pursuing its ‘hiring on the basis of looks’ policy, the parameters of good physical appearance set under the A&F looks’ policy stretch the limit just too far. It is nothing wrong in hiring physically attractive people if that is what one’s business demands, and hence A&F could pursue its hiring policy but with some changes. The clauses setting the benchmarks of looks under the company policy should be totally discarded and deleted to ensure that nobody faces discrimination. Hiring on the basis of height, weight and other essential parameters could be used as the acceptable physical criteria for hiring people.
Fenton & Keller (2013). Workplace Law- Hiring Based on Appearance. FentonKeller,
Retrieved April 11, 2013, from
SPU (2013). Federal Employment Regulations. Seattle Pacific University,
Retrieved April 11, 2013, from