Tattoos & Body Art: Legal Implications of Employment Discrimination, Termination

By | January 1, 2014

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Dress codes are part of employee policy in many companies. With changes in the structure of organizations, and the incorporation of employee hoteling and telecommuting, many companies are turning to more relaxed employee dress code policies. For some, however, the policy still outlines very specific guidelines in terms of body art, body ink, or tattoos. If you are considering a transfer to a new place employment, it is important to learn about the dress code, especially if you have visible body art that may need to be covered.

While many employees accommodate the employer’s policy on dress code and body art, there are some who question the employer’s right to limit and restrict body art. In fact, some employees have even considered discrimination lawsuits if they feel their job has been placed in jeopardy, or even terminated, when a tattoo has been acquired after employment was secured. Employers, in their response, cite it is necessary to suspend those employees when the professional image of the company may be compromised. However, there is a very fine line on which an employer may be crossing.

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If you have body art, or tattoos, and you find that your employer may be discriminating against you, consultation with an attorney may be necessary. When your job tasks are being completed on time and you are filling every other responsibility at your place of employment, the simple discrimination of body art may be an issue a court needs to address. Because there are some social, political and even ethnic reasons for tattoos or body part, a court may need to address your right to continue with employment should you elect to obtain a tattoo after you’ve been hired.

Even women who utilize body ink as a form of cosmetic surgery are finding some degree of discrimination in the workplace. Unless the employer clearly outlines the guidelines on body art, body ink and tattoos, there may be little they can do should you elect to undergo a form of cosmetic surgery. Still, there are some employers who will opt to release you from employment, ultimately setting the stage for a workplace discrimination lawsuit. While there are state and federal laws that must be addressed in each case, an attorney can guide you in the best possible route for your particular employment situation.

Tattoos have become more commonplace in recent years. While many tattoos are obtained through professional artists, and are an expression of individuality, there are some individuals who choose to obtain body art for the purpose of cosmetic appearance. Without regard to your choice, if your employer terminates your employment after you obtain any type of tattoo or body art, consult an attorney and review the employee dress code policy to determine what specific guidelines are provided.

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