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Are There Legal Issues With Trying to Hire Attractive Employees … and More of Your Questions for March

Plus, the best place position a bridal area in a store.

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My staff is made up of attractive female salespeople. I feel they add to the atmosphere of glamor that surrounds jewelry. But if I reject a more homely job applicant, could I get sued?

The federal government has no law specifically forbidding “attractiveness discrimination,” although a few cities do make it a no-no. Generally though, lawsuits tend to proceed on the fact that it is usually illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, disability or national origin.

Discriminating against an unattractive woman (or even a beautiful one) because of her appearance is viewed as sex discrimination because such biases generally do not apply to men.

So, you would be on very shaky ground if you made it explicit policy — or stated it in your job ad — that you hire only attractive young women. Hooters can get away it because of its type of business: Its selling point is providing attractive young women (in effect models who also serve tables) for customers to ogle. But it would be hard for a jeweler to argue only good looking women can advise customers on the best jewelry to buy.

Of course, there is the law, and then there is reality. Walk into any upscale boutique and you’ll see salespeople who look like they walked off the pages of a fashion magazine. Retailers hire workers whose look they feel will sell goods. And study after study has shown people equate good looks with competence and other positive attributes. For you, the key thing is to be able to show that these qualities were accompanied by other factors — a friendly personality, retail experience, jewelry knowledge — that are easy to identify as the reason that this person was hired.

Somebody stole an image from our website and is using it on their own. What can we do to get them to remove the photo?

If the image is being used illegally on Facebook you can simply go to their “Report Something” page at the Help Center. If the images, or even text, video graphics or other content, are on a separate website, start by finding out who is hosting the site by using a tool like WhoIsHostingThis.com. With this information you can then apply for a takedown order under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You can ask a lawyer to handle this, but a cheaper option is a specialist service like DMCA.com, (dmca.com/takedowns.aspx), which will handle the matter for a fee of about $199. The site claims that usually within days the image or content will be removed.

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Where’s the best place to position a bridal area in a store?

In back and away from the crowds. It’s a little counterintuitive but you actually want to put your bridal section — probably the most important in your store — away from your most heavily trafficked areas, to allow bridal shoppers the uninterrupted attention of your sales associate. It also means there is less chance that outside light will interfere with diamond colors. Do it right, and it will make your store unfold like a good book. A lighting trick favored by the late award-winning interior designer Bruce Brigham was to dim the lighting at the entry and contrast that with higher light levels at the back of the store, signaling that there is something of importance — your diamond area—at the back. People are always drawn toward light.

My wife wants to hire a professional logo designer at a cost of thousands of dollars, whereas I think I have the design chops to pull this off. I do our custom design, after all. Advice?

To be sure, you could download a $99 logo design from the Internet and probably tinker with the typography, but you risk doing your store a great disservice. Logos don’t get the respect they deserve, especially among jewelers, which is probably why we see so many that are simply the name of the store splashed across an outline of a diamond. “In my experience, a logo sets the stage for all of your strategic messaging,” says Dan Antonelli, creative director of Graphic D-Signs, and author of Building a Big Small Business Brand. “A great logo conveys expertise, establishes a brand promise, and creates an expectation for quality.” As a custom jeweler you no doubt appreciate that great design brings simplicity to a complex situation. A good commercial artist should offer many options and variations as you work through the process. Don’t worry. You’ll get your chance to leave your artistic input.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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