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Log In / Register | Jul 23, 2018

Tattoos and Piercings Still Viewed Negatively in the Workplace

In my 2011 article The Employee with the Dragon Tattoo< I addressed some of the employment law issues facing employers as new generations of employees enter the workplace. While tattoos have become more mainstream, particularly among members of Generations “Y” and “Z”, this type of self-expression is unlikely to be an asset in career advancement.

In a recent article Survey: Tattoos Hurt Your Chances of Getting a Job Salary.Com surveyed 2700 people and 76% of respondents felt tattoos and piercings hurt a job applicant's chances of being hired during a job interview. More than one third - 39% of those surveyed, believe that having employees with visible tattoos and piercings, reflect poorly on the employer/business. Of those surveyed, 42% felt visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work, with 55% reporting the same about body piecings.

As I noted in my 2011 article, employers could face potential Title VII liability for workplace restrictions on tattoos that are part of a religious practice. Employers should generally avoid any overly broad dress code or similar policy that does not acknowledge the potential need to offer accommodation. While religious tattoos or piercings may be subject to accommodation, those worn for secular or purely decorative reasons do not need to be accommodated under Title VII. As such, it is legally within an employer’s right to require that tattoos, piercings or other body art be covered up in the workplace. Likewise, an employer can require workers to cover up any secular tattoos that could be considered offensive or a source of harassment toward other employees or customers, including, but not limited to tattoos of a sexual nature or racist symbols or images.

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About Mark Fijman

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Mark Fijman specializes in labor and employment issues relating to the restaurant and hospitality industry, including Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") compliance. He is an attorney in the Labor and Employment Section of law firm Phelps Dunbar, LLP’s Jackson, Mississippi office. He can be contacted at (601) 360-9716 or

Fijman represents and advises employers regarding federal and state employment laws dealing with race, age, disability, gender, national origin and religious discrimination and in administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. His practice includes representing employers seeking to enforce non-competition/non-solicitation agreements and pursuing injunctive relief for improper use of proprietary information.He routinely counsels on issues ranging from overtime questions to discipline and termination decisions. Direct phone: (601) 360-9716.  Phelps Dunbar, LLP has offices in New Orleans, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, Houston, TX, Tampa, FL, Mobile, AL, Raleigh, NC, Jackson, MS, Gulfport, MS, Tupelo, MS and London, England.

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