The oldest rule in the book -- that it helps to be good looking -- is getting some new attention.
This past month saw the publication of two books from both sides of the Atlantic that track the power of sex appeal in the workplace. The books, both indirectly and directly, also raise the question of whether a civil society should protect those who don't fit its standards of beauty.
Advocates for the Adonises might counter the very suggestion that such protections should be put in place by arguing that beauty is subjective. But as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said on a case related to pornography, you know it when you see it. Nevertheless, as University of Texas economist Dan Hamermesh demonstrates, there's in fact statistical analysis to back up the belief that the good-looking are given preferred status in the workplace. In promoting the publication this month of his book, "Beauty Pays," Hamermesh states the following in a New York Times op-ed:
"One study showed that an American worker who was among the bottom one-seventh in looks, as assessed by randomly chosen observers, earned 10 to 15 percent less per year than a similar worker whose looks were assessed in the top one-third -- a lifetime difference, in a typical case, of about $230,000."
The trend, which cuts across gender lines, should be cause for judicial remedy, says Hamermesh.
"With all the gains to being good-looking, you would think that more people would get plastic surgery or makeovers to improve their looks," he also writes. "A more radical solution may be needed: Why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?"
Read More: New Studies Look At The Challenge Of Being The Ugly Worker