In some creative industries, visible tattoos and body modifications are a welcomed form of self-expression, but in others, they're still taboo. How can employers maintain a consistent office dress code without offending employees or sparking a lawsuit? Mikal E. Belicove recently interviewed Tamara Devitt of the Fisher & Phillips labor law firm to get her tips for office policies on tattoos and piercings.
- Establish a clear dress code and appearance policy. This policy should express, according to Devitt, "the image the company presents to its customers and clients and that all employees are expected to comply with the policy." A published policy, she emphasizes, is a must.
- Tailor your policy to your company culture. What constitutes as the norm in one office may not fly in another. If your company has a solid stance on visible tattoos, piercings or unnatural hair colors, include this in your policy.
- Consider multiple policies according to employees' roles. For example, some companies may permit visible tattoos on employees who don't work with clients or customers. Devitt cautions that managers who allow tattoos should prohibit employees from exposing ink that others might consider discriminatory or harassing.
- Be careful not to run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. For example, employers must accommodate religious beliefs; accordingly, body modifications like tattoos and piercings that are related to an employee's religion may be exempt from company policies that prohibit them.
What's your stance on visible tattoos and piercings in the workplace? Are they no big deal or an unwelcome distraction?
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