Body Piercings and Tattoos, Part 2

By Gary Wartik
April 10, 2015

In our last newsletter, Karen L. Gabler, Esq. of the law firm of LightGabler, LLC of Camarillo, employment law specialists, offered us insights into how to deal with job applicants, adorned with tattoos, nose rings, extra bushy beards and similar body “enhancements,” should be treated in terms of meeting a company’s dress code.

Ms. Gabler told us that in developing a company-wide grooming/appearance policy prohibiting tattoos and piercings, employers should consider the business reasons behind any such prohibitions, as well as the specific job duties of the individual employees.   For example, an employer might wish to prohibit visible tattoos for employees who interact with customers.  In that case, a janitor who works after hours and never interacts with customers might be permitted to have visible tattoos, whereas a customer service representative might be restricted from having visible tattoos.

As the article noted, employers are entitled to hold prospective new employees to the terms of an enforceable dress code, especially for those meeting with customers, clients or patients.  Well, that is good direction for those meeting with prospective employees in an interview setting.  Some of our readers, however raised the question of how to deal with the employee who, at the time of employment reflects a “clean appearance,” then moves into the world of tattoos, nose rings, etc.

In discussing this with Ms. Gabler, she confirmed that with an enforceable dress code in place, the existing employee who changes his/her appearance may be held to the same standards as applied to them when hired.  For those who, subsequent to being hired, violate the dress code, and continue to interact with the company’s clientele, such an employee may be released for violating the dress code, or given the choice of complying with company policy.  As a reminder, however, there are two key tests, they being: 1) Employee interacts with clientele, and 2) The physical adornments are not religious based.

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