A recently resurfaced offer letter from 1965 would be illegal today. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
A letter offering a professorship at SUNY Buffalo from 1965 was just posted online. In the letter, the head of the History department wrote: I have learned you have a comely and charming wife. I cannot make such a possession a condition of employment but the standard of feminine pulchritude here is gratifyingly high. Ew. I mean, thank you?
While the professor in question was not harmed by his wife’s pulchritude, which of course we all know means beauty, anti-discrimination laws today protect an applicant from discrimination against the spouse. Cases frequently, but not solely, arising where employees in interracial relationships face negative job action, so a discussion of one’s spouse’s good looks should be relegated to the dustbin of history.