Is my supervisor allowed to make comments about my physical appearance in my written evaluation?

Is my supervisor allowed to tell me that I “often look tired” when my looks are related to my age, the fact that I did not protect my skin well from the elements when I was younger, and allergy-related dark circles uner my eyes. I do get adequate rest, so he is making comments about physical appearances that cannot easily be changed. Can comments regarding my physical appearances be placed in my evaluation when they have no bearing on my job?

Asked on June 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The law does not require that only comments germane to a job be put into a job evaluation--for example, a supervisor could legally write, "Can't believe she didn't like the Avengers movie." However, it is illegal to discriminate or harass employees because they are 40 or more years old, or due to race or sex/gender. If you believe that these comments actually represent such illegal discrimination, you may have a cause of action--though if you have not suffered adverse consequences (e.g. not promoted; taken off the preferential shift; hours cut; etc.), it would likely not be worth taking action, since you could not recover enough compensation in the absence of some "injury" (other than emotional upset) to justify the time, effort, and/or cost of legal action.

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