You Can’t Fire Me For That! (Or Can You?)

Just Googling the phrase “tattoos in the workplace” you will get a number of different results both positive and negative about body art and professional jobs. What are the rules when it comes to tattoos? What can employers require of their staff? In this post we discuss tattoos in the workplace and the legality of whether or not an employer can terminate an employee because of their body art. Here are a few things you need to know.

  • Visibility of the Art.
    All professional tattoo policies are determined by the individual company based on their corporate culture. There are still conservative work places which prefer their employees not have body art at all, but as long as the tattoo can be covered clothes that fit within the business dress code, they typically don’t hire or fire based on this criteria. However, these policies will depend on the organization and sometimes on your tattoo. A company is completely within their rights to determine that some tattoo placements do not match their corporate image.
  • Offensive Phrases or Images.
    One tattoo rule that does seem to apply across the board is in regards to visible tattoos that contain offensive phrases or images. Of course, the exact definition of offensive is up for interpretation based on the company’s policy. If you can cover them up with clothing that adheres to the dress code, this will likely be a non-issue but be aware that offensive images and phrases can make employers and clients uncomfortable. The most offensive tattoos are typically considered those which sexual imagery or vulgar language.
  • The Legal Right to Discriminate.
    According to employment law, companies are still able to make sweeping policies regarding body art in the workplace, up to and including not hiring or firing an employee for their tattoos. The Society for Human Resource Management advises that a company consider their policy and make sure that it is consistent with their corporate culture. However, the responsibility is on the individual applicant or employee to ensure that their body art does not infringe on the company’s policy or the comfort level of those they will be working with.

Do you want to know more about employment policies? Contact the expert staff at HTSS to learn more.

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