Can a job ad demand that you send a picture of yourself to be considered?
August 19, 2009 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal for a job ad to say they will only consider applicants who include a picture of themselves, even if the job has nothing to do with interacting with customers or the public?

I found a job ad for craigslist that is basically looking for someone to list a large quantity of items in their ebay store. At the end of the ad they say:

Please forward me with a picture if possible, otherwise i will not consider you for this position.

Is this legal? I'm not applying for a job as a promotional model, or the hostess at a restaurant, so what do my looks have to do with it? And how can you ask for something like that, and then pretend that you're not discriminating against people based on looks?

This is not the first time I've seen someone say they only will consider applicants that send a picture--I've seen large, more legitimate companies say this to.
posted by secretsecret to Law & Government (25 answers total)
 
Previously
posted by rhizome at 2:19 PM on August 19, 2009


@rhizome-- but that was a job for promotional models. I would expect to be asked for a photo for that kind of work, since your appearance is part of the job. But sitting at a computer listing shoes on ebay doesn't use my looks.
posted by secretsecret at 2:23 PM on August 19, 2009


Country or municipality?

It's so common all over Latin America and some parts of Europe that damn near all resumes come with (unsolicited) photographs. In the US, Canada and the UK... not so much.
posted by rokusan at 2:26 PM on August 19, 2009


It really depends on where in the world you are. As far as I know, in the US you don't apply with a photo and I think they are not allowed to ask for a photo (or a date of birth, for that matter). In Germany, however, you have to apply with a photo (and date of birth).
posted by Bearded Dave at 2:32 PM on August 19, 2009


I'm in the US.
posted by secretsecret at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2009


Beauty or ugliness isn't a protected category or suspect classification, so the hirer is likely free to discriminate on looks if he wants to, in the same way that he's free to discriminate in favor of friends of friends or friends' dumb kids or men from the same national fraternity or people who like to stick celery up their nose.

My own expectation is that hirers who do this for positions where looks shouldn't matter are either using photos as a backdoor way to not hire non-anglos, or where sexual harassment is rampant.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:47 PM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


My own expectation is that hirers who do this for positions where looks shouldn't matter are either using photos as a backdoor way to not hire non-anglos, or where sexual harassment is rampant

This.

He can't go out and say no [ethnicity] or [gender] or [age] need apply. I happened to apply for unemployment today and there was a blurb about how asking for eye color in a phone interview isn't good. Googling to find that blurb I instead found this...

The Texas Workforce Commission said hiring decisions cannot be based in any way upon race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability.

"Requiring a photo would likely be considered a clear example of discriminatory hiring practices, according to our attorneys," a TWC representative wrote.

posted by birdherder at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This page seems to indicate that it is legal in the US to ask an applicant to include a photo, but that it's a very bad idea because the employer can not legally use any aspect of that photo (age, race, gender, appearance, et al) in the process of considering whether to hire the person, which really calls into question what legal use the photo could serve.

On the other hand, this page says it's flat out not legal to ask for a photo, so who knows.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:23 PM on August 19, 2009


The ad you're describing also sounds like a possible scam, what with the bad grammar and all. I would be wary of sending your information.
posted by Pomo at 3:35 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


In certain industries here, people are hired on the basis of looks as much as on the basis of ability, especially young people - this trend has become so widespread in certain retail sectors (especially clothing and fast food) that it was the focus of a newspaper article here a few weeks ago.

Personally, I would rather companies be allowed to be honest in their job ads about the attributes they require in their staff than waste the time of job-seekers who have no realistic chance of gaining the advertised position and who are get interviewed purely so the company can claim to be an EEO employer. The employer is going to see what you look like and hear how you sound at the interview anyway. If your looks or vocal qualities are going to disqualify you from the candidate pool, would you rather find that out at resume stage or after you've invested time and energy preparing for interviews?
posted by Lolie at 4:18 PM on August 19, 2009


Let's break out "The Career Fitness Program, 8th edition" by Sukiennik, Bendat, and Raufman again. It clearly states that a "statement that a photograph may be required after employment" is an "acceptable pre-employment" inquiry. However, a "requirement that applicant affix a photograph to application form, [a] request that applicant submit photograph at applicant's option, [or a] requirement of photograph after interview but before hiring" are "unacceptable pre-employment inquiries." It also hints that these inquiries may be illegal.

(This is for the US, btw)
posted by clorox at 4:37 PM on August 19, 2009


Well let's see. With your resume, they have your name, address, and telephone number. You have nothing from them that you can document is real.

I can imagine that when they go to steal your identity from the fake ad, having your picture will help them that much more.

Or they're going to use it to post porn spam on the site, w/ you as the potential prize.
posted by TomMelee at 4:46 PM on August 19, 2009


secretsecret: The comments in that question address your issue. They can ask, but it can expose them.
posted by rhizome at 5:48 PM on August 19, 2009


It's legal to *ask* whatever you want of applicants, so long as they don't use it to discriminate against a protected group. (Most companies have a policy against asking to prevent even the appearance of a bias)
posted by meta_eli at 6:44 PM on August 19, 2009


I've yet to see a legitimate job posted on Craigslist.
posted by VC Drake at 6:46 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


@VC Drake - seriously? A lot of legitimate and reputable companies post their job ads on craigslist. My last job came from there. It was kind of like the wild west when job postings were free, but now that they charge (I think $25) for postings, it's gotten rid of a lot of the weirdos.
posted by secretsecret at 7:13 PM on August 19, 2009


Maybe they've been scammed before and want to try to make sure you're a real person.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:25 PM on August 19, 2009


It's technically legal to ask for a photo, but it's illegal to discriminate against someone based in the federally protected ways. If you were rejected you could file a discrimination lawsuit - which is why most American companies don't ask for one. After you're hired, it's normal to have something to attach to your HR file.

Y'know, I'm not usually one to mess around with a potential future employer... but the ad you quoted just says 'A" picture - not necessarily one of you. Unless your application spells out all your features (brown hair, blue eyes), find a picture that represents the best-looking member of your gender without it being an obvious celebrity. Unless you're going to be meeting this person in person (unlikely), see what happens...

craigslist isn't the first place to look for jobs... especially if that job sounds shady at all, requires money upfront, and the like. Best of luck.
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:39 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's legal, but not advisable for most respectable jobs, and usually a sign of a job I *don't* apply for- such as a personal assistant job post that asks for a photograph, many of which are on craigslist, either because the job seems to be a scam or a cover for another kind of solicitation.

Additionally, I don't recall instances in which a photograph has been requested in a job application NOT posted on craigslist, at least in the career websites I visit, but this may not be true.

The main question for me is whether it seems relevant to the position. If you want an assistant, you probably don't need to see my photograph, whereas if you want a magician's assistant to be on stage with you, then I wouldn't be as surprised for requests for photographs.
posted by questionsandanchors at 8:00 PM on August 19, 2009


Sure, send a picture, but if you want to wind up like one of the "candidates" in Donald Westlake's The Ax.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:05 PM on August 19, 2009


Only if, natch.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:05 PM on August 19, 2009


FWIW American Apparel takes photographs of you during the interview process. I interviewed with them 4 or 5 years ago and was totally caught off guard when the manager whipped out the camera. I've always wondered if it was legal or not and assumed that it so Dov Charney could weed out those he doesn't want to sleep with.
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2009


Well, that makes sense since Dov Charney is the most disgusting douchebag in the world. I'd turn down an offer from them just to stay away from him.
posted by secretsecret at 12:32 AM on August 20, 2009


One more vote for scam. Stop communicating, and don't send a picture.
posted by Citrus at 7:58 AM on August 20, 2009


A possible legitimate reason: when the interview(ers) are trying to make a decision out of large number of applicants, the photo can help them recall what was said at interview. Once you've interviewed 10 people in a week, they can all start to blur together.
posted by Lucie at 4:36 PM on August 20, 2009


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