Recruitment Discrimination Case Study

Matching Models, a recruitment company targeted at skilled and beautiful personnel, has come under scrutiny for a recent advert for a personal assistant with a ‘classic look, brown long hair with b-c cup.’ A move that is something out of a Mad Men episode not recruitment in 2016! Further adverts included a personal chauffeur to a polo team owner who requested a sexy female driver.

Along with many others, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has condemned the behaviour and sought clarity from the company over its recruitment practises. Matching Models has defended its behaviour by stating, ‘our company understands the importance of having the right people representing your company, because after all, first impressions count.’ – I’m sure the first impression most people will now have of Matching Models is highly positive….

These sorts of advertisements raise several discrimination issues. Firstly many male applicants would be unable to apply, likewise, the adverts infer that they are seeking younger, more beautiful staff which discriminates  against older applicants. Should an applicant be unsuccessful for these reasons then they could bring a discrimination claim for which the award cap is unlimited.

Furthermore an employer can only ask about clothing sizes (including bra!) if it is essential to the context of the work, for example a model for a catwalk show. In this case the client was an older gentleman who had a Christian Dior dress designed especially for the role of PA as he wanted her to look like Jackie Onassis Kennedy.

There are some occupations that are exempt from the Equality Act 2010. These include religious preachers, political parties that run all female or all gay shortlists and acting/modelling roles that require a specific look. Indeed, one client Matching Models has pointed out is MTV who wanted models with tattoos and piercings. In some of these cases it is also worth pointing out that just because the discrimination is exempt from the Act that doesn’t mean it will not attract controversy.

Whilst most employers will not commit such flagrant acts of discrimination in their recruitment processes it is also worth mentioning that employers are not allowed to ask a candidate about their age, race, religion, sexual orientation, any disability they may have, marital status, if they have children or of their plans to start a family. As stated above the award is not capped should any rejected candidate bring a discrimination claim and Matching Models serves as a reminder of the importance of doing things by the book.