American Apparel’s Anti-Ugly Hiring Policy

American Apparel took some heat last year after being accused of firing employees they deemed unattractive, and the latest leak about the brand is that they now base employment on full body photos of their workers. {Gawker}

If you're used to their ads, is a head-to-toe photo hiring policy REALLY that shocking?

A new policy states that job applicants being referred by a current employee must submit a “full body head to toe” picture to the person referring them, who then passes it on to the email address, where the photo is screened for approval, according to a transcript of an internal American Apparel conference call obtained by Gawker.

The sketchiest part is that employees transferring photos to the above e-mail address are required to do so from their personal e-mail account, not a company one. {The Cut}

A source told Gawker that in fact all prospective employees must have a full body photo taken and sent to the e-mail address to be considered for employment. The importance of the applicant’s resumé in the hiring process comes in a distant second.

Current employees are subject to this kind of body screening as well. The new policy reportedly says that in order for workers to receive a promotion or raise, their photo must be approved. Apparently, how well the person does their job is of less importance, and district employees who dislike a worker’s photo will refer to them as “off brand.”

American Apparel CEO Dov Charney.

When questioned about the new store policy, American Apparel Spokesman Ryan Holiday referred Gawker to the same statement issued a year ago, which said the company does not screen photos for attractiveness but to ensure an employee’s personal style is a good match for their brand’s style. He also said current employee photos are only requested “from time to time” to be certain employees are styling themselves well in the brand’s clothing and showcasing their new products effectively.

There’s no word on how far up the food chain the policy extends, but with sales down, an operating loss of $17.6 million and a 41% drop in the price of shares, perhaps it’s time to consider a hiring process that’s based more on substance than style. {LA Times}

It’s a disgusting policy – and particularly rich when you see founder Dov Charney’s photos and realize he probably wouldn’t make the cut, but is likely behind the criteria that deem other people attractive enough to hold a position. And while repulsive, it’s not illegal in the United States so long as attractiveness as a hiring qualification is not based on race, gender or another protected class.
In fairness, American Apparel might be unfairly targeted just because they happened to get caught. While this is a more in your face case, Abercrombie & Fitch has come under fire for similar hiring practices in the past, and each incident brings tales of retail workers who’ve experienced some level of appearance based criticism during their career. Our guess is that tons of stores hire and fire based on appearance. Perhaps they could give American Apparel lessons in doing it more discreetly.

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