#309 – Photo Envy

Perhaps jealousy does cause female hiring personnel to discriminate against pretty job applicants. Even if true, however, I’m pretty sure those practices aren’t actionable in Georgia. And even if the law prohibits such conduct in particular cases, I doubt the woman who phoned me this morning fell victim to that bias.

“Leslie,” a British expat living in Atlanta, telephoned today seeking legal representation for a discrimination suit. When I inquired as to whom she wished to sue and on what basis, she replied: “The employers who refused to grant me job interviews solely because of my appearance!”

Explaining how she’d discovered the discrimination, Leslie said: “I put the pieces together after reading about a scientific study. According to the article, attractive women who submit photos with their resumes to female hiring personnel are far less likely to obtain an employment interview than similarly qualified but plain-looking women. The study concluded that jealousy alone is to blame. Since I’d submitted my photo along with my resume, I realized that the ten female hiring managers who refused to grant me an interview must’ve acted through envy.”

“Are you certain you’re qualified for the jobs?” I wondered aloud.

“To be a law firm’s receptionist? Absolutely! I went to university; I have prior experience; and as you can hear, I have a pleasant speaking voice.”

While I concurred on her soothing tone, I required further information to form an opinion. “As I’m sure you’re aware,” I began, “beauty’s subjective. Are you certain all those hiring managers considered you pretty?”

She replied with utter confidence: “One hundred percent certain! Without sounding too conceited, I’ll have you know I’ve been referred to as ‘stunning’ by a number of people.”

After telling Leslie I couldn’t advise her without reviewing the materials she’d submitted to each law firm, she faxed over her resume and photo. I phoned moments later and alerted her to an error in the transmission: “You faxed me a picture of a man by accident. Can you resend the proper photo?”

Leslie placed me on hold for a minute before returning, whereupon she insisted: “I sent the right photo. You must’ve switched mine with someone else’s on your end.”

My fax machine contained only one picture – of a bucktoothed, mustachioed gent who, appearance notwithstanding, apparently owns a vagina. Out of curiosity, I asked a final question: “Did you apply to any plaintiff’s personal injury or medical malpractice law firms?” She said she didn’t think so.

Opting for the diplomatic route, I simply advised Leslie that Georgia law doesn’t prevent hiring managers from declining interviews because of jealousy. I also encouraged her to seek employment with plaintiff’s personal injury firms. I didn’t say why, although my brain definitely had its reasons: if there’s anyone who’d let that face greet clients, it’d be lawyers wanting to show they not only win money for people with disfiguring injuries; they hire ’em!


Beauty does invite jealousy, after all.

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