Dress Code Policies, Tattoos, and the Law
Workplace policies that ban the display of body modifications, such as tattoos and piercings, are both legal and routine. Companies want to uphold a clean-cut image via employee appearance for the perceived benefit of their customers. However, with these policies, companies reinforce the association of tattooing with deviance, as well as discriminate against those with visible body modifications. Employment discrimination is a serious threat for heavily tattooed women. They must often consider the employment policy when deciding upon their next tattoo, or their next job. They may have to be able to completely cover all their artwork with clothing. This chapter examines various types of employment and the policies they enforce against tattooing, including the military, blue-collar industries, professional offices, and service industries. It places tattoo discrimination within the larger context of employment discrimination and makes the argument that body modifications should not be grounds for termination. It is estimated that one in every three to five people in the United States has at least one tattoo. With this large percentage of the population having tattoos, it is only a matter of time before employment policies become more tolerant.
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