Employersafe
7th October 2016

London- based recruitment agency Matching Models is under fire after advertising jobs for ‘attractive’ women, in some cases even specifying bra size. A recent ad for a PA/Flight Attendant listed the top requirement for the role being “Brown long hair with a B-C cup” ahead of any qualifications.

In a statement on their website, the company says: “It is almost politically incorrect to request someone to work for you that is both attractive as well as professionally equipped with the right set of skills. However, our company understands the importance of having the right people representing your company, because after all, first impressions count!”

Under the Equality Act 2010 there are 9 protected characteristics including gender and race. We asked one of our employment law specialists to take a look at the case.

“In some industries, a person’s appearance is important, for example, production companies often cast black actors in the role of Othello however this is not a free licence for employers to determine what they want their employees to look like. Employers that do this run the risk of discrimination claims.

“Companies should tread exceptionally carefully – do you really need an employee to look a particular way? Taking this case at face value, it appears as if Matching Models could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010. The fact that they go so far to acknowledge the political incorrectness on their own website but continue to list job advertisements in this way is extremely concerning.

“It should also be remembered that employees can bring claims against their employer where the employer does not protect them from harassment from third parties. For example, two black waitresses sued their employer (a hotel) when they heard racist terms during a speech by Bernard Manning at a charity event in the hotel.  They were ultimately successful. The tribunal found their employer did not do enough to protect them by offering them somewhere to work during the act.

“The same applies to sexual harassment – employers who demand an employee is ‘attractive’ will do themselves no favours if they then do not protect them from harassment.

“As far as cup size goes, the everyday employer (the VAST majority) is going to have an uphill struggle to justify that an employee must have a particular cup size. There may be instances where cup size is important, for example, a lingerie model – an advertising campaign promoting bras for larger chested women would not use models with smaller chests – but this is about the only instance where such an advertisement would be acceptable. In terms of the job advert in question, breast size will have no impact on the ability of a PA/flight attendant to perform the role required and should not be anywhere near the list of requirements.”


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