Whether you own a coffee shop, a jewelry store or bakery, all owners need to make the decision on how much is too much when it comes to their employees tattoos and piercings. You yourself may be covered in them or they might not be your cup of tea, but no matter what your opinions are you can still legally not hire someone based off their tattoo and piercing choices. Although, it may be time to reconsider your opinions on tattoos and piercings in the workplace like other companies such as Starbucks are doing.
Times are changing, according to Richard Gonzalez, a clinical professor of law at Kent College. Tattoos and piercings are becoming so common these days that banning them might put the employer at a disadvantage. However, the court system still deems it legal to have restrictions on tattoos and piercings, according to Gonzalez.
“Technically you are supposed to treat everyone the same…the courts are pretty confused about what to do about tattoos and piercings,” Gonzalez said. “Right now [owners] can probably get away with banning them if they apply it to men and women equally.”
The only exception to this rule is religious tattoos and piercings, according to Gonzalez. Employers are legally supposed to accommodate and work with the employee concerning anything that is religious in nature.
Within the past year, Starbucks updated their dress code policy for employees that now allows them to have visible tattoos and piercings. In their new policy they state that tattoos are allowed but not on the face or throat. The customer should be focusing on the employee and the service they are providing. Not on their body art.
“Treat tattoos as you treat speech – you can’t swear, make hateful comments or lewd jokes in the workplace, neither can your tattoos,” the policy states.
As for piercings, two moderately sized earrings are allowed and a nose stud is acceptable. Ear gauges no bigger than10mm are also allowed.
But for any business owner the customer is always the first concern. What if some customers are offended by an employees tattoos? What if I lose customers because an employee has their nose pierced? All valid concerns but according to Gonzalez that is just a minority of customers. Some employers are convinced that their customer base is conservative and they wouldn’t take kindly to tattoos or piercings but that isn’t as big of an issue anymore.
“As things change fewer and fewer people are going to be offended,” said Gonzalez. “You walk in to your average place of business and you see somebody with a piercing or an earring, not that many people are going to be offended.”