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Does Your Physical Appearance Prevent You From Being Hired?

Holly Hicks,

Does Your Physical Appearance Prevent You From Being Hired?

A woman in Iowa was recently fired because she was deemed to be too attractive and was distracting to her boss. Two employees in Utah were recently terminated simply because they leaned more liberal instead of more conservative in their political beliefs. Can your physical appearance, your politics, or even your age prevent you from being hired? Can people really fire you simply because of how you look?

Unfortunately, the Answer is Yes

There are 24 “Right to Work” states in the United States, and worldwide there are many countries that have similar standards to these. Rather than it being a contract to guarantee a job, a Right to Work state prevents unions from creating a “closed shop,” or a place where you have to join a union and stay current with your union dues to have the job. This also eliminates much of the negotiations that occur between the employer and potential employee, replacing the union contract of employment with a standardized agreement. This allows you as the employee to come and go as you please from a job without fear of reprisal… but it also means the employer can terminate you from you job as well for virtually any reason. That’s right – if your boss doesn’t like your tattoo, you can be fired. If a younger person can better accomplish your job, you can be fired. If your boss doesn’t like the fact that you wear a green shirt on Mondays, you can be fired.

What Can You Do About It?

There are some ways to protect yourself as an employee. Now you can’t predict whether or not a tattoo is going to get you fired, but you can save your performance reviews, e-mails, and other business communication that shows your value as an employee. You can document notes from meetings that may show an unfit working environment. You can be proactive against a boss that might have it out for you by having a meeting with whomever is your boss’s boss [and if that's the CEO, that means the Board of Directors or other governing council] and take your own notes from the meeting. Why do this? Because many employers are counting on the fact that you haven’t documented any positive accounts of your workplace conduct. When you file for unemployment benefits, you can receive up to 2/3 of your average salary over a set period of time… but only if you can prove that your job was terminated for a non-performance related reason.

Don’t Change Who You Are

If you’re going to be fired because of your appearance, you don’t need or want to be working there. You won’t be appreciated for what you can bring to the table because people will be stewing over the fact that you’re a little bit “different.” You could certainly cover a tattoo in a job interview to convey a more “professional” appearance, but ultimately someone at that job will know you have a tattoo. Then you could be fired for providing false information to an employer and potentially lose an unemployment case if you get a judge on a bad day. Just be yourself. Take measures to protect yourself and your finances.. Eventually the right door will open and you’ll get into a job that you love.

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