Zac Wilson 27 January 2011 English 102 Multiple Positions rough draft Prohibition of Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace A large number of businesses do not allow tattoos that are visible. Many also prohibit piercings, other than single earrings on women. Some industries even take their policies to the extreme of not allowing any tattoos that take up more than 25% of a body part, and if a pre-existing tattoo is too large or obscene, it must be removed (Powers). This even applies if a uniform can easily cover the tattooed area.
A business is allowed to limit or prohibit tattoos, piercings, and other forms of body modification as much as they want as long as it is addressed in the employee handbook, usually in the dress code section. If the business does not mention a tattoo or piercing policy, it is illegal for them to punish or discriminate against an employee with body modifications. The policy also must be enforced uniformly among the employees, or the employee can sue the company (Cole) . Costco didn’t used to have as strict of a policy on piercings. During that time, an employee named Kimberly Cloutier got her eyebrow pierced.
She was then instructed to take the piercing out when she was at work. She refused, and stated that it was against her religion, The Church of Body Modification. The company then changed their policy to prohibit the wearing of eyebrow rings. Cloutier took the case to court, and lost because Costco included their policy in the handbook. Her point about it being against her religion was also invalid because the Church of Body Modification does not require anyone to keep their piercing in at all times (Cole). A common belief is that tattoos and piercings are perceived as a negative practice, associated with delinquents.
For this reason, many businesses limit their employees’ freedom to display their piercings or tattoos. They believe that if customers see tattooed and pierced people working somewhere, they will think they place is of lower quality, and stop coming, causing the store to lose business. The most common policy states that employees must cover their tattoos, and must take out their piercings, with the possible exception of earrings on women. Different branches of the military take this policy to the extreme. In the Air Force, no member is allowed to have tattoos that will show when wearing a uniform.
Even if the tattoos are covered, they are not allowed to exceed 75% of a body part, and may not contain any obscene, offensive, or gang related images. Men are not allowed to wear any piercings, and women are restricted to wearing “one small spherical, conservative, diamond, gold, white pearl, or silver pierced, or clip earring per earlobe and the earring worn in each earlobe must match. ” If an individual has a tattoo that does not meet the requirements, they must remove it at their own expense (Powers). The army is somewhat less strict.
Almost any tattoo is acceptable unless it is obscene, offensive, or gang-affiliated. The only body part that is not allowed to be tattooed is anywhere above the collarbone, unless it is on the back of the neck. The army used to have a stricter policy on tattoos, but they changed it because of the growing percentage of the population with tattoos (Leipold). It seems that most businesses do not want their employees to wear tattoos or piercings because of the negative perception associated it. By law, they are allowed to prohibit it as much as they want, as long at their policy is clearly stated in the handbook.
Many individuals feel that it is a violation of their freedom to be discriminated against for having tattoos or piercings. They believe that they should be allowed to express themselves with their appearance, and no one else should care if someone has tattoos or piercings. Some people even leave their jobs in search of a more accepting workplace. Others refuse to cover up, knowing that there will be consequences. Based on my own work experiences, and the experiences my friends have had, I have gathered that when working in the food service industry, the dress code s likely to be stricter than at a retail store. I had a retail job at Hot Topic, and was allowed to wear any piercings I wanted, and if I had tattoos, I would have been able to display them, provided they weren’t offensive in any way. At a shoe store called Aldo, employees are allowed to have tattoos and piercings if they aren’t too obnoxious. At Bob Evans, the tattoo and piercing policy is taken somewhat extremely. Women are only allowed to wear earrings, one in each ear. Men are only allowed to have one earring in. The hole is not allowed to be stretched, and the style must be conservative.
Tattoos must be covered. If an employee refuses to cover her or her tattoos, they are restricted to staying in the back of the house, away from customers. They are not allowed to become a server, host/hostess, busser, or bakery attendant. Many employees opt for staying in the back of the house, as a dishtanker, kitchen prep cook, or grill cook. Sara Champion, a former project engineer for a major construction firm was not allowed to display her tattoos while at work. She worked in Miami, and had to wear long-sleeved shirts to cover her tattoos, even though it was usually hot outside.
She found this policy to be ironic because many of the construction workers displayed their tattoos. After six years of dealing with this policy, Sara decided to resign, and start searching for a job that would not require her to cover her tattoos. At her new job, she can meet with big clients wearing jeans and a t-shirt (Goodman). Dave Kimmelberg, a Boston lawyer, wrote a book called INKED Inc. , which is about people who go to work with concealed tattoos. He feels that in many businesses, it is like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding between the workers and their bosses.
Now that he has written the book, many people know that he has tattoos that cover most of his arms, but he still chooses to cover them when dealing with anything professionally (Goodman). Similarly, a Starbuck’s employee named Ron Carter has tattoos on his arms. He gladly covers them up with wristbands in order to keep his job. He understands that in a business relationship, he must follow the rules set by the company, so that they can gain the most profit, and he can keep his job (Feldstein). A man named Edward Rangel worked at Red Robin, for six months, displaying his religious tattoos on his wrists the whole time.
The company had a policy stating that employees had to cover up tattoos. The whole time Edward worked there, he received no complaints from customers, coworkers, or supervisors, and was not required to cover his tattoos. Rangel’s faith stated that it is a sin to cover his tattoos. He had spoken with the managers about the issue on multiple occasions, seeking a exemption from the dress code, but they refused. A new manager was then hired and immediately fired Rangel after seeing his tattoos. Rangel filed a lawsuit, and won a large sum of money in the case.
He won because the company had not been uniformly and consistently enforcing their dress code. It was also a major factor in the case that “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to sincerely help religious beliefs unless it would cause undue hardship to the business (Burger). ” Modified Mind is a website in which visitors can post about businesses that are known to have more accepting policies dealing with body modification. Bryan Henderson, the creator of the website, wanted to make it easier for tattooed and pierced individuals to find work.
Visitors can give information on whether employers allow facial and ear piercings, non-offensive tattoos, and unnatural hair colors. There is also a section explaining whether the policy is the same for all branches of the business, or if it varies based on location. If the person making the post references the employee handbook in their post, it makes the information provided more credible (Modified). Many individuals with tattoos have entry-level, or even high-powered jobs. Many athletes have tattoos, and display them on national television at every game. The number of people with tattoos is growing as they become more accepted.
Many people believe that in the near future, there will be no restriction on body art in the workplace, with the possible exception of professional work settings. It is mostly an issue of how much the employee interacts with the customer. An employee who’s job does not involve interaction with customers is likely to have a more lenient dress code than one who deals with customers regularly (Gross). It is a common attitude that if an employee is good at his or her job, but they have a tattoo or piercing, it is better to compromise with them about the body modification policy, rather than fire them.
This is because the company runs the risk of losing a good employee, and being unable to find one that performs as well as the recently fired one did. Because of this attitude, certain companies, such as Whole Foods Market, let their employees write their own dress code, and have it approved by a manager (Mlodzik). This illustrates the numerous stances and compromising possibilities between businesses and employees regarding body modification. Works Cited “Body Art and Tattoos in the Workplace – Business And Money | Business News | Financial News – FOXNews. com. ” FoxNews. com – Breaking News | Latest News | Current News.
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