Discrimination on the Basis of Appearance: Pursuing and Defending an Expanding Set of Claims

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 10:00am-11:30am PDT

Early Registration Discount Deadline, Friday, August 30, 2019

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will provide employment law counsel with an understanding of the growing field of law surrounding discrimination based on appearance. Though "appearance" is not a protected class under federal employment law, many state statutes recognize such a claim, and the EEOC is taking notice when "appearance" may be code for some other form of prohibited discrimination.


Discriminatory employment practices of all sorts can be the basis of liability for employers. Though there is a general awareness of issues arising under Title VII regarding gender, race, and other protected classes, employment counsel cannot rest easy that the limits of liability fall within those categories alone.

In the past few years, employment discrimination based on appearance has entered the mix. Though "appearance" is not a protected class under Title VII, that lack of statutory protection may serve as pretext for actionable discrimination.

While it may be permissible for an employer to hire only employees that it deems to be attractive, problems arise if the "attractive" hires are all white, under 40, and female, raising potential issues of racial, age, and gender discrimination. State and local statutes and ordinances are more direct, putting into place outright bans on appearance-based hiring for traits such as weight and height.

Employment counsel can be proactive in addressing these practices. Counsel can adapt many of the same tools to combat discrimination and harassment to appearance discrimination. Legal advisers can take a crucial first step by making clients and their employees aware that discrimination is not limited to a small group of discrete statutory categories.

Listen as our panel of experienced employment attorneys explains this emerging area of the law. This webinar will address the critical cases and statutes in the area and identify steps that can be taken to limit exposure.



  1. Sources of governing law
    1. Title VII
    2. State statutes/local ordinances
  2. Discussion of court holdings
    1. Examples of employee-favorable rulings
    2. Examples of employer-favorable rulings
  3. Policies and procedures
    1. Conforming existing materials to emerging law
    2. Other steps


The panel will review these and other relevant matters:

  • The parameters of an emerging doctrine of liability for appearance discrimination
  • How local, state, and federal law address employer discrimination based on appearance
  • Polices and practices to shield against liability by mitigating offending behaviors


Wallin, Mark
Mark Wallin

Of Counsel
Barnes & Thornburg

Mr. Wallin focuses on providing the highest-level of service to his clients and building long-term relationships....  |  Read More

Wozniak, Peter
Peter J. Wozniak

Barnes & Thornburg

Mr. Wozniak's practice includes defending employers throughout the U.S. in complex employment discrimination class...  |  Read More

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Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include program handouts. To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

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