TATTOOS AND BODY PIERCINGS IN THE WORKPLACE « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Employers’ Right-to-Appearance Policies

Whether an employee’s visible tattoo or body piercing stems from a claimed sense of aesthetics, rebellion or “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” business has discretion to regulate appearance and thus may usually decline to hire, fail to promote or terminate that person on that basis alone.

As long as the policy is based on reasonable grounds of acceptable appearance for the particular industry or business involved, an employer may impose different standards for men and women.  For instance, a professional law or accounting office would likely be able to prohibit earrings for men when permitted such jewelry for women.

However, companies must take care to seek reasonable accommodation of visible tattoos (“body art”) or piercings arising from religious belief and practice. Employers must also apply such policies consistently to prevent other possible claims of unlawful discrimination.  For example, a company prohibiting visible tattoos on just lighter skinned employees is probably setting itself up for a racial or national origin discrimination suit.

Contact a labor and employment attorney for assistance creating a “uniform” appearance policy (pun intended) and for applying that policy where an employee has raised a religious or other seemingly legitimate objection.