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Does SIZE matter?

So the ever touchy debate of restaurants and bars hiring based on physical appearance vs experience comes into conversation from time to time. It is no secret that sex appeal has been a motivating factor in hiring for a serving position, and why should it not be?

Many people will debate that it is unethical or straight up wrong! However these same people buy magazines and watch movies with actors they look up to and wish they, themselves, could imitate or look like. Why should the Film / TV and modelling industries be exempt from this conversation? Is it not true that any company should have the right to hand pick a “face for their business” the same way a TV commercial is auditioned for?

It is no secret that people, men and women, will stay at an establishment longer, spend more and have a more enjoyable time if their server has made a connection with them. For some guests it can be simply physical for others is will be service based. This is why many hiring mangers will hire based on personality and presentability not simply experience.

“Our society places an undeniable emphasis on the value of physical beauty. We commonly associate physical traits with perceived correlating qualities or characteristics. Attractiveness is perceived to correspond with attributes such as virtue, integrity, intelligence, sensitivity, kindness, and honesty, whereas ugliness or obesity corresponds with perceptions of laziness, lack of discipline, incompetence, lack of productivity, and slovenliness. This attribution process is legally and socially acceptable.” – Pihl Law Corporation

Should the restaurant industry hire based on qualifications only and not appearance?

To say that a restaurant or bar should hire based on qualifications only is not logical. This would also block new prospecting servers and bartenders from entering the industry. Many people with “serving experience” also carry a lot of industry baggage. Yes you heard right “baggage” meaning bad habits, poor morale and possibly heightened expectations.

However a new shiny face with the right attitude, can be taught the skills needed to excel in the industry. These “newbies” often bring a shiny positive attitude and are very willing to learn, vs, tainted and bitter towards the way things are. Lets be honest we are not talking brain surgery here, most intelligent people can be taught the necessary skills needed to thrive in the service game. That being said there are some servers that obviously stand out amongst the rest, there is skill involved and often only time put in will achieve this level of skill, and their tips will reflect this.

A master mixologist for example takes years to master their craft. This would be an obvious exemption when talking experience vs appearance. However this conversation is about the disgruntled server that did not get a job he / she felt they deserve.. but “she only got it because of how she looks” scenario.
No hiring manager will be silly enough to put an inexperienced person in a position that obviously needs experience to succeed, thus putting their operation at risk of failing.

Is it legal to hire on appearances only?

This practice, while not being a popular public choice, most definitely is within the Canadian Labour Board rules & regulations. As per an article released by Phil Law Corporation: article found here

“In Canada, there is no legislative prohibition against not hiring a person based on appearance or uglyism alone.”

“Further, an employer can regulate and/or prohibit, as a term of the employment, dress codes, grooming standards, hair length, hair style, uniforms, jewellery, and visibility of body piercings and tattoos, and an employer can regulate other appearance-based requirements”

If appearances were not able to be taken into consideration legally, companies such as Victoria’s Secret would have a very different image than it does. Why is it wrong for a restaurant or bar to hand pick the individuals they feel will best represent their brand? When choosing a public spokesperson for a TV appearance or commercial, companies do not just take the first person who asks, or even the longest standing or qualified employee for that matter. They will select a person that is felt to represent their brand in a positive attractive manner.

This “profiling” falls into the auditioning category, as you would audition for a movie, play or modelling gig, why should the food service industry be experience / resume based? The easy answer is, it is not and should not be… Qualified persons have a great chance at scoring a job in ANY industry, however good looking well kept individuals will have a slightly better chance. This is a reality of the society that we ALL live in and relates to much more than bars and restaurants.

In Summary:

The food service industry most definitely hires based on appearance and it will probably not stop anytime soon. It is fully legal and within their rights. This will never change until society changes and stops holding movie stars and models on a pedestal.

Chime in below with your thoughts!