Biz Rules: Tattoos

By Beau Denton June 30, 2012

“What gets employers in trouble is uneven enforcement.”Unlike race, religion or gender, tattoos and dress codes are not covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That means employers can choose not to hire someone with tattoos, or they can fire employees for post-hire modifications. “What gets employers in trouble,” says Jean Juchnowicz, owner of consulting firm Human Resources Simplified in Sarasota, “is uneven enforcement,” like firing someone for their tattoos but not firing someone else with tattos because they have a better work performance.

“The other big concern,” says Juchnowicz, “is how these policies intersect with religious or sexual discrimination.” If fired employees can establish a connection between their tattoos and religious beliefs—believe it or not, there is a Church of Body Modification—then you may be on shaky legal ground.

Business owners should write a personal appearance policy that reflects the office atmosphere and the level of customer interaction. “The policy needs to be clear, simply stated and legally defendable, and—most important—evenly enforced,” says Juchnowicz. It doesn’t have to be complicated (a page or two is usually sufficient), but it should establish across-the-board rules for visible tattoos, piercings, personal appearance and clothing. Communication is key; your policy should encourage employees to ask supervisors what is or is not permissible, and new hires should read it before starting.

Contact your professional or trade organization for help in writing your policy or to see what other companies are using. You can also find helpful resources at the EEOC website,  



“I know you’re after me, but you’re not going to win.”

What Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Texas Gov. Rick Perry emailed to him after Chief Executive magazine named Florida the No. 2 state in the nation to do business. No. 1 was Texas. Scott was speaking at the Argus Foundation Meet the Minds luncheon in June.



percentage of Florida’s full-time, full-year workers who are enrolled in an employer-based retirement plan. Florida ranks No. 50 among all states.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

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