Is It Illegal for a Bar or Restaurant to Require a Photo With Craigslist Job Application?

Juliet Hope Wayne (pictured) is a Philadelphia-based comedian and storyteller, which pretty much means that she’s also a part-time waitress. She’s currently seeking gainful employment in the foodservice sector, so she wound up on Craigslist earlier this week. “I don’t go there unless I’m desperate,” she explains. (Juliet: see Foobooz Jobs).

While on Craigslist, she stumbled across this ad for a Bryn Mawr bar looking for a bartender or waitress. The ad reads:

“Looking for an experienced bartender or waitress. Needs to be up to date with beers and cocktails. Must have a good personality and be hardworking. For any consideration attach a picture and resume to your email. Full Time: 600-800$”

That’s right. If you want to even be considered for an interview at this fine Main Line establishment, the identity of which is hidden thanks to Craigslist, you need to send them a snapshot. I’m guessing the sexier the better. Juliet wonders, “Would I pass their looks-qualifications, which conveniently serve as an age and race qualification?”

I think you would, Juliet, especially if you send them this photo. But is this even legal?

Well, according to Center City attorney Sidney L. Gold, who specializes in employment law, it’s not illegal to require a photo. At least not technically. But, says Gold, if a person could demonstrate that a prospective employer was using said photo to make hiring decisions based on race, age, ethnicity, pregnancy, or other classes protected by federal and state employment law, that employer could have a problem.

“Let’s say the employer requiring a photo hires a person who is white,” Gold suggests. “Well, a black person who sent in a photo could make a good argument that the employer doesn’t want to hire someone who is black. Or disabled, or pregnant, or whatever the case may be. The employer would have a difficult time explaining themselves under cross-examination.”

Gold points out that an exception to this would be a job that falls under the federal Bona Fide Occupational Qualification Provision. An example of this would be a model, since looks are a natural part of the job.

“But appearance has absolutely no relationship to one’s ability to be a bartender,” Gold adds. “You just need to know how to make a drink.”