Tattooed Employees: Can Businesses Ban Them?

Back in the day, tattoos were considered to be a part of the counterculture. In fact, for decades, tattoos were associated with gangs, crime, bikers and other groups outside what was considered the norm. However, tattoos have long since gained a much wider acceptance and have been prevalent among many types of people. Also, people who have tattoos are known to work in a wide variety of industries and hold jobs at every level, including executive positions.

tattooed employee

Establishing Employment Policies

Employers have been relaxing their policies with regard to tattoos. However, most employers still have dress code policies in place. Since the appearance of employees affect customer reaction and participation, businesses must exercise their right to determine whether or not to accept certain clothing, makeup, hair and looks in general. However, whether or not they are accepted in the workplace depends upon a variety of factors. For instance, the type of job, company image and level of exposure to the public that the job has.

Finding Options for the Tattooed

For companies worried about offending conservative clientele, there are some options to consider for their employees wishing to express themselves with body art. The most obvious solution for existing tattoos is for staff to make every effort to cover them when they are in the public eye. For existing employees who are desiring body art, temporary tattoos have become an increasingly popular option. This allows the employee to enjoy the look of a tattoo, but with the flexibility of it only being temporary.

Hiring Tattooed Employees

It is estimated that around 21 percent of U.S. adults have tattoos with 38 percent being in their 30s. Those aged 40 to 49 comprise 27 percent of those with tattoos. This could be why corporate protocols and policies have been fading with regard to tattoos.

In today’s competitive global marketplace, employers have long since begun welcoming employees from a variety of different backgrounds in an effort to attract the most creative and bright staff. Also, many workers are attracted to employers with more relaxed policies concerning modes of dress and lifestyles.

Understanding Employment Laws

The part of the law that would apply to whether or not an employer may ban tattoos relates to religious discrimination. Therefore, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or candidates on the basis of any serious religious belief. That being said, it would be a tough case for an employee or candidate to prove that an employer was guilty of this. In this day and age, at-will employment is prevalent, which means much of the time, an employer doesn’t really need a reason to terminate employment. Besides, there are many ways around these issues for employers, thanks to employment defense lawyers who know their way around the law.

The bottom line on tattoos in the workplace is that it really depends upon the employer as to whether or not it will be an issue. Employers should carefully consider whether or not tattoos exposed on employees would be frowned upon by their clientele. However, employers should always consider the option of concealing the employee’s tattoos or the use of that particular employee in a different capacity that is, perhaps, a less visible position. Considering these options will allow the employer not to miss out on a potentially great employee just because of their body art.

About the Author: Bethany Gillis contributes this information so that employers can further clarify the options they have when it comes to hiring employees with tattoos.