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Womenswear label in trouble over size requirements

  • News
  • July 9, 2015
  • Sarah Dunn
Womenswear label in trouble over size requirements

The listing, which remains online, offers a full-time job with responsibilities split between receptionist work and fitting work in the buying department. It says successful candidates must have dealt with customers in a retail or reception role previously, but need have no prior experience as a fitting model.

Applicants must conform physically to the following measurements:

Bust 88/89cm
Waist 70/71cm
Hip 100/101cm
Inside Leg 83cm
Height 170-175 cm

The job listing states: “PLEASE ONLY APPLY FOR THIS POSITION IF YOUR MEASUREMENTS ARE WITHIN OUR REQUIREMENT, AS DETAILED ABOVE.”

Some commenters on Facebook attacked Pagani for excluding larger people, calling the listing discriminatory and unfair. Others supported Pagani’s position, saying the store supported larger customers by offering clothing up to size 18 and was entitled to seek a fit model who could fit sample sizes.

New Zealand employment law prohibits employers from directly or indirectly discriminating on people based on the following grounds:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Ethnic origin
  • Ethical beliefs
  • Colour
  • Race
  • Employment status
  • Disability (including illness)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political opinion
  • Family status

Discrimination involving weight, height or physical appearance is not expressly outlawed, although the Ministry of Justice has warned that certain weight or fitness requirements may indirectly discriminate against those of a particular sex, ethnic or national origin, age or disability.

Tania Howard is a recruitment advisor and hiring expert who owns Talent Seed. She confirms that companies are allowed to discriminate based on appearance, but says it's best practice to have a valid reason for doing so.

"If there is quirky criteria that could be seen as discriminatory it is best to explain the reasoning," Howard says. "Pagani doesn't explain sufficiently why size is a criteria for the role and assumes that readers know about how things are in the fashion industry."

Howard says complaints would have been minimised if Pagani's job listing had explained why an employee with certain measurements was needed. She offered a suggested line: "Due to all samples being manufactured in a size [X] a fitting model naturally needs to fit the garments. Therefore we can only consider people with the following measurements…"  

In this instance, size is valid criteria for the role, Howard says. 

Alen Levis is the creator of the Haystack app, which aims to streamline recruitment for retailers and those in the hospitality industry. He says businesses should consider how a job listing may reflect on their brand while writing it.

"It's beneficial for businesses to consider how they want their brand to come across, and whether a job ad could be perceived as offensive by job seekers," Levis says. "As employers are often inundated with huge responses to job vacancies, the probable intention of this ad was to save time and only look at the most qualified applicants. Unfortunately, this approach has backfired."
 

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