October 18, 2010

American Apparel’s Hiring Policy.

Is it commonsense for a clothing company trying to sell their clothes to hire people who look good in them?


Recently Gawker wrote a series of articles disingenuously complaining about American Apparel and owner, Dov Charney’s policy of only hiring people with an appropriate look.

Why disingenuously? Because, as we know well over here in elephantland, any article about the perennially controversial, love/hate AA attracts lots of readers. And every one of Gawker’s articles was accompanied by one of AA’s (in)famous tackily sexy ads. You know, like so:

Umm, “duh?”

What clothing company, bar, restaurant, etc. doesn’t try to hire attractive people first?

American Apparel has one of the longest list of people they do not discriminate against:

“American Apparel actively maintains a goal of equal employment and respectful treatment of all individuals without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship, veteran or military status, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other protected factors.”

They just don’t like ugly people. Or, in AA’s case, “un-hip” people.

But who does? Tech companies?

Hiring based on appearance is not actually discrimination. In fact, places like American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, restaurants like Hooters, most airlines and news channels…can get away with hiring only beautiful people by backing it up as a “bona fide occupational qualification.” It’s a slippery slope of law jargon that protects companies for using beauty (and sex) as a way to make a profit.

Is it right?

In accordance with a capitalistic system, yes.

Is it moral, ethical?

Well, that’s for We the Consumers to decide.

(*One key note here: AA doesn’t appear to hire only conventionally beautiful employees. They hire hipsters of all shapes and sizes—as long as they have the right look or style.)

In the meantime perhaps we can all work on how we view and accept beauty, then perhaps jobs that hire based on appearance-only will have a tougher selection process. Perhaps what’s so upsetting about these qualifications is that they are based on rigid beauty ideals.

American Apparel will at least hire people of color, LGTBQ people, foreigners, religious fundamentalists, and mentally handicapped people as long as they’re hot.

For the Gawker articles go here, here, and here.

For a few elephant articles on American Apparel go here, here, and here.

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