Is it OK for a potential employer to say in a interview that you look like an older movie star who is now deceased?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it OK for a potential employer to say in a interview that you look like an older movie star who is now deceased?

In my interview to the District Manager said to me that I look like the woman from touched by a Angel. I said who? Della Reese. She said yes. And laughed. I wasn’t sure if she was trying to guess my age or what she meant. I was absolutely disgusted and embarrassed. For starters Della Reese is deceased and I am not as old as she is. Is this legal?

Asked on December 14, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is illegal for a company to discriminate against you based on your age, but not illegal to simply, whether directly or indirectly, make a comment based on it, especially a comment that many reasonable people wold not see as insulting or defamatory--Dell Reese was considered by many attractive and was also a successful, accomplished actress. IF you don't get the job but most likely should have (based on experience, qualifications, etc.), then possibly the reason was age-based discrimation if you were compared to an older person; in that instance, you might wish to contact the EEOC about filing an age-discrimination complaint (assuming you are over 40; only those 40 and older and protected from age discrimination). If you do get the job, or don't get it but failed to get it for some reasonable non-age reason (e.g. it went to a person with more experience than you), take the comment as an innocent joke or compliment that simply did not come off as the speaker intended.

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