While tattoos and piercings are acceptable in the mainstream, employers have the explicit right to set a dress code that prohibits visual tattoos and piercings in the workplace. This does not necessarily mean that those who are pierced or tattooed will not be hired, but they may be required to cover tattoos and remove piercings during the workday.
What Rights to Employers Have?
Employers have the right to set a dress code any way they see fit. Dress codes may be designed to protect the image of the company while others are purely set with safety in mind. For instance, someone working in a factory around machinery may be required to remove their piercings so they do not become entangled in equipment. Other businesses that deal with outside sales may require their sales team to cover any tattoos in order to display their professionalism. These dress codes are generally set to protect the organization's branding, image, and mission.
What Rights do Employees Have?
With regard to tattoos and piercings, employees do not have many rights. Some individuals have attempted to make discrimination lawsuits out of not being allowed to display their body art. Few have been successful, and it is often difficult to find representation on such a case as attorneys realize that these cases typically fall in favor of the employer.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are some exceptions to the tattoo and piercing rules set forth in dress codes. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers with 15 or more employees have to accommodate those employees with specific religious requirements unless it would cause serious repercussions to the employer. By not attempting to accommodate these employees, or by providing a solid reason why they cannot be accommodating, an employer will often face a religious discrimination suit. Many Eastern-based religions, for instance, involves body piercings in the face and nose areas. Employers would have to either allow the piercings or provide a written explanation, such as the machinery example previously mentioned, as to why they would not be allowed.
If you are an employer, you are free to set your dress code in any way you wish. Keep in mind that many businesses are beginning to be more open to tattoos and piercings, as they are a very popular form of expression. As an employer, you must use your best judgment and be certain to not discriminate against your employees in any way.
To learn more, contact a law firm like Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C..