Rights agency decries prejudice against baldness

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Rights agency decries prejudice against baldness

Refusing to hire someone because of their baldness is a form of discrimination, the National Human Rights Commission decided Tuesday on a petition filed in May 2016.

According to the commission’s statement, a bald man in his late 30s surnamed Kwon made the appeal after he applied for a short-term job at an annual event at a hotel last May by texting the manager. The job requirements were simple - to guide and wait on visitors, serve food to those attending the event and clean up afterwards. Having read the application form that Kwon sent, the personnel manager gave him the job and texted him the date, location and dress code, along with other guidelines such as that people needed to have “neat hair.”

When Kwon arrived at the hotel on the day of the job, the manager reportedly kept looking at Kwon’s head and talking about how the job notice required applicants to have neat hair. The manager soon left to ask for someone else in the personnel management team. When he came back, Kwon was told that they “couldn’t work with him.” Kwon filed a petition to the human rights commission on the grounds that the hotel discriminated against him because of his looks.

“We made an official suggestion to the hotel CEO that it implement policies to prevent another situation in which someone is discriminated against for their looks when it is unrelated to the actual job,” said the commission.

Yet the hotel argued that, while the event was held at the hotel venue, the recruitment for the event was made by an affiliate company, so it should not be held responsible. The hotel did, however, comment, “It seemed inadequate to hire someone who is bald since a job at a hotel deals mostly with receiving guests, and baldness could make customers feel uncomfortable.”

“We have never had a case in which we hired someone bald, so I had to consult the hotel to make the decision,” said the manager.

“The standards of one’s looks are not only personal and subjective,” said the commission, “but also susceptible to different situations and places. Deeming him inappropriate for customer service and refusing to hire him simply because he is bald falls under the discriminatory act.”

BY HONG SANG-JI [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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