Acting without a complaint from any employee past or present, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating Marylou's Coffee, a Massachusetts chain, because it has a reputation for hiring only attractive women to be its servers.

Looks, however, are not a protected class under any federal legislation. Only the District of Columbia has established "personal appearance" as a protected category, though the city of Santa Cruz, Calif., prohibits discrimination based on "physical characteristics" and Michigan protects height and weight from being discriminated against in employment.

Without a federal statute concerning personal appearance or physical characteristics to use as fodder for its investigation, it's not clear where the EEOC is headed with its probe of Marylou's Coffee's hiring practices.