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Do you see anything wrong with this?


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Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?
Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?

I just started working at this new place about a month and a half ago and I'm just curious what you all think of this situation that has arisen.

 

One of the "bosses" set up a policy for the group I work with that tattoos are not allowed to be visible. This is because my group works with the "customers" and since they are so integral to the business, it is important that they do not feel uncomfortable or put-off by seeing a bunch of tattoos all over the place. This creates an inconvenience for some people who already had tattoos on their arms, necks, etc. A long sleeve shirt is the obvious answer to covering a tattoo on an arm, but one lady has a tattoo on her neck and they expect her to either grow her hair out or wear a scarf. By the way, it gets extremely hot in the summer where I live and a scarf or long-sleeve shirt is much too warm when it's 100+ degrees outside.

 

However, the "boss" that created this policy is not requiring herself to follow suit. She openly stated that in the summertime, she will be wearing capris and sandals and the tattoo on her ankle will be visible. I suppose it is different for her since she works in an office and does not work with the customers as closely as my people do... but still it is a professional environment and I think she should follow her own rules. If she is going to create such an inconvenience for people, I think she should have to deal with that same inconvenience herself.

 

Also, she doesn't require the other people who work in the office or lab all the time to cover their tattoos since, again, they don't deal with the customers nearly as much as we do. So, it's not a company-wide policy. It is specific to a smaller group (about 100 employees) that I happen to be in.

 

It's not an issue for me since I have no visible tattoos. I will also keep my mouth shut since I am pretty low on the totem pole at this point. But in the military I'm pretty high in my chain so I think about these things, and I would never set a regulation for my soldiers that I refused to follow myself. They would lose faith in me. It's just bad leadership, in my opinion.

 

What are your opinions?

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It's a touchy issue and I do not think the laws are clearly defined on this yet which allows companies to get by with it. They are using the customer interfacing, which is a job requirement, as their argument and that is how they are getting by with it, and the manager is obviously not in the customer facing environment thus excluded from the rule.

 

As long as a job is not discriminating against a protected class they can put restrictions up like this if the reason for the restriction is a part of the job requirement. Like i said this one is touchy but as far as I know no laws have been put into place to protect wearers of tats or piercings.

 

I think until someone has taken this sort of issue to court and won in a federal court the laws will remain hazy. As of yet I don't think there are any laws to prevent this requirment but don't quote me on it since I have not dealt with this issue personally or professionally.

 

We still have cmopanies like Hooters who are still getting by with hiring only female waitstaff and expecting them to dress in skimpy clothing, thus you get companies that are still getting by with making people cover tats like the one in question. The laws are still hazy on this and right now centered only on the protected classes in the area of discrimination - disability, race, national origin, sex, creed, age and religion. Hooters is starting to be challenged since their practices can imply sex and even age discrimination, i.e. the hiring of only female waitstaff and usually those under 25.

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Yeah, I'm not too concerned about the legality of it, although I do think it is questionable to implement this policy after someone has already been hired & worked there for years. I can see them implementing this policy as they hire new people (ie, we will hire you but you have to cover up the tat) and keeping the old policy for employees who were hired under a different policy, but then maybe that would even create a perceived unfairness.

 

I was more wondering about the.. I don't know... morality of it? To me, it just isn't right to expect something of your employees that you won't even abide by yourself.

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Morally, yes, it sounds questionable. Legally is fuzzy since there are no laws surrounding it, but i would not want to be in the position of that company if and when (and it will happen) employees start filing complaints.

 

You would be surprised at what things are considered legal. On this particular case I won't quote any legalities since I am not sure 100% but i have learned things over time that were considered legal that i really was surprised about. I know you are not questioning legalities, just adding that as a sidenote.

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I highly doubt they already have that written into our employee handbook. Basically, to me it sounded like this lady got this idea & the next day everyone had to cover their tattoos. That is, everyone in my section.

 

But that is not acceptable. Here anyway, a company is allowed to dictate to an extent, the appearance of employees (piercings, tattoos, suits, uniforms etc) but they must have written policy describing what is acceptable and what is not and who it applies to.

 

I would expect that if there is no written policy and such decisions are relatively random then it could be interpreted as potentially discriminatory.

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I would agree with Melrich that it should be written in the handbook or job description what is acceptable and what is not, but honestly in the states I do not know how much weight a lawsuit on this would carry. Probably only because enough of them have not been initiated. I suspect with the trend for tats and piercings so much on the rise with the younger generation this will begin to be challenged a lot more forcing the law to become more clear about what can and cannot be required.

 

While i don't agree with how they just threw this on the employees i do see the companies point. Just one example - if the customer demographic for example were primarily the elderly such as nursing home medical supply sales, then someoe covered in tats could make them uncomfortable as they are more inclined to not be used to that as a younger customer base. Companies want to cater to whomever their customer base is since that is their bread and butter.

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But that is not acceptable. Here anyway, a company is allowed to dictate to an extent, the appearance of employees (piercings, tattoos, suits, uniforms etc) but they must have written policy describing what is acceptable and what is not and who it applies to.

 

I would expect that if there is no written policy and such decisions are relatively random then it could be interpreted as potentially discriminatory.

 

I don't think anyone would do anything about it; the job market isn't too promising & no one wants to get into a situation of jeapordizing their jobs over this.

 

If I were this lady's equal I would bring it to her attention, not only the legal part of what I consider to be questionable leadership. But it's not my battle and I was lucky just to get a job.

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I don't think anyone would do anything about it;

 

No, it's not really the point. Industrial action or legal action over such things is pretty rare. The greater cost is employee disharmony and productivity. Aside from being law in certain jurisdictions, it is simply good corporate practice to document policy pertaining to employees.

 

People like to have certainty about where they stand.

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She took a whole section of employees that deal with customers a majority of the time and said that they have to cover their tats. Those who don't have a lot of customer contact, don't need to cover their tats. It sounds like she is following the rule herself.

 

Personally, I don't care to be helped by an employee that has tattoos. Like you mentioned about the boss, it just comes accross as unprofessional. So maybe I ma not being objective, but I really don't see that she is doing anything wrong.

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I would put this in my pocket as reason to demonstrate the ultimate disloyalty once the economy changes by finding another job. Meanwhile, I'd pick my battles and hold onto my paycheck and fight any urge to permit myself to be demoralized--that's not good for your own gut or anybody else's.

 

Head high, and in your corner.

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Tattoos and piercing rules are essentially considered part of a dress code. It is fully allowable for employers to create this type of policy. It does need to be in writing, but may be distributed as an addendum to the employee manual. Yes, it can apply to a certain group of employees as long as it is enforced uniformly throughout that group. Currently, most employers feel that it is too taboo to determine what tattoo content is acceptable, so this is the way to play it safe. While many individuals have beautiful tattoos, others may have some ink that an employer would consider undesirable.

 

From a managerial perspective, I think all direct supervisors should follow the same rules as their subordinates, simply so employees don't feel the way you do. However, she isn't required to comply with the policy if she doesn't interact with customers.

 

Good luck!

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Yeah, I know she's not breaking any rules making us follow a policy but not following the policy herself. And I think it makes sense that she created such a rule... tattoos do make some customers feel uncomfortable.

 

I just wanted to know if most people would consider it poor leadership for a person to set a policy, then openly tell everyone that she will not be following her own policy herself. Or, if most people think it is acceptable and not off-putting since she doesn't deal with the customers as much as we do.

 

I know if I were her, I would feel uncomfortable and hypocritical exposing a tattoo on my ankle after I told other people that they must cover theirs, even if I'm not in the presense of customers as much.

 

The tattoo rule doesn't bother me. Like I said, I have no exposed tattoos so this policy doesn't affect me. What does bother me is poor leadership and a lack of leaders setting a standard and refusing to follow it themselves. Just wondered if you all think I am totally off base.

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I once fired a receptionist for having tattoos as the account is written on some tattoo thread a while back. She tried to argue her termination at the California Labor Commission hearing & the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hearing (BTW, both administrative law courts) and flat out lost. As an employer I have the right to set, modify and create uniform standards that are beneficial to my profit ratios. My advice to the OP is to quit her job, open her own business and do it her way if she disagrees with her current employer.

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Yes, but you should get additional compensation. This is why you need government with teeth and claws. Too many injustices otherwise.

 

As I said.

 

I once fired a receptionist for having tattoos as the account is written on some tattoo thread a while back. She tried to argue her termination at the California Labor Commission hearing & the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hearing (BTW, both administrative law courts) and flat out lost. As an employer I have the right to set, modify and create uniform standards that are beneficial to my profit ratios. My advice to the OP is to quit her job, open her own business and do it her way if she disagrees with her current employer.

 

US labor standards are pretty weak compared to other OECD.

 

If the tattoo is not clearly visible or if they can't prove it affects profitability or impacts the customer then what they're doing is clearly immoral. In Australia you couldn't fire someone just for having a tattoo.

 

I mean if you were a hotel receptionist and you had a tattoo of a dragon accross your neck it'd be easy to prove but if you have a little butterfly near your collar bone it is different.

 

Anyway null point other than from a moral standpoint. Because in the US employers can do whatever they like. Your options are simple. Do what they say or find another job.

 

edit : I remember there as an airline in the media got sued for hiring only young attractive flight attendants. Its good because they said it was essential to their business but couldn't prove connection and court didn't accept what they said what would be to stop an employers saying 'red haired accountants generate the most profit' and that would not be discrimination.

 

But yeah, you won't win, so just forget it and cover up.

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It's quite clear that she can do it (legally), and I also don't agree that she is not following her own rule. The rule is "staff who deal with customers to a large extent must cover tattoos". Nowhere in the description of her behaviour so far have I seen any evidence of her not following that rule; as a member of staff who doesn't deal with customers to a large extent, the rule says she doesn't have to cover tattoos, and she's following the rule in that regard.

 

I believe the reason for the disgruntlement is twofold: (1) this rule was not in place from the start, so it looks rather arbitrary and means that the employees (including the OP) don't entirely believe in its necessity, and (2) the rule was introduced arbitrarily without any apparent consultation with the people affected.

 

In other words, the problem here is simply bad management, rather than hypocrisy or a bad rule per se. The manager should learn to bring people with her when she wants to decide something, rather than just make a decision and then impose it arbitrarily.

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I once fired a receptionist for having tattoos as the account is written on some tattoo thread a while back. She tried to argue her termination at the California Labor Commission hearing & the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hearing (BTW, both administrative law courts) and flat out lost. As an employer I have the right to set, modify and create uniform standards that are beneficial to my profit ratios. My advice to the OP is to quit her job, open her own business and do it her way if she disagrees with her current employer.

 

Hey now, I never said I disagreed with setting a tattoo policy. For the 3rd time, I don't have any exposed tattoos and this new rule does not affect me. What I disagree with is a person setting a policy and refusing to follow it themselves. I think it is poor leadership. I am in a leadership position in the military and I would never set a policy for my soldiers, then flat out tell them that I would not be following it myself.

 

I understand the point is often overlooked when you focus on a portion of this story that you directly relate to, that being that you had a personal situation where someone tried to sue you for doing something that is within your rights. But seriously, you're telling me to quit my job because I think it is wrong that one lady there refuses to follow her own rule?

 

Again, the point is not whether she has the legal right to do this or the technicalities of putting it into an employee handbook. The point is if people think it is inherently wrong to rule by the policy "do as I say, not as I do".

 

Sheesh, I'm not going to quit my job over this. I don't have a tattoo that has to be covered. And I'm not taking anyone to court... just wondered if people think it is wrong for a person to set a policy, then for that person who set the policy to openly say they will not be following it.

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I also don't agree that she is not following her own rule. The rule is "staff who deal with customers to a large extent must cover tattoos". Nowhere in the description of her behaviour so far have I seen any evidence of her not following that rule; as a member of staff who doesn't deal with customers to a large extent, the rule says she doesn't have to cover tattoos, and she's following the rule in that regard.

 

That is exactly the question I was attempting to address.. whether it is wrong (not legally wrong, just in terms of good leadership) to set this policy but not follow it. But then again she doesn't work with the customers like we do. I was just wondering whether or not this is a policy that most people find acceptable, or if they think it is hypocritical. Thank you for your opinion.

 

I believe the reason for the disgruntlement is twofold: (1) this rule was not in place from the start, so it looks rather arbitrary and means that the employees (including the OP) don't entirely believe in its necessity, and (2) the rule was introduced arbitrarily without any apparent consultation with the people affected.

 

I bet my coworkers feel this way. I can see why this policy was imposed; one guy I work with has a tattoo of a woman with her chest exposed on his arm. This tattoo policy is reasonable to me. One poster suggested that the customers probably complained, and that is correct, that was this lady's motivation for setting the tattoo policy. And again, it's not causing me any sort of inconvenience as I don't have a tattoo on my arm or neck, nor do I plan on getting one. Personally, I don't really care one way or the other. I have a job that pays my bills and that is good enough for me.

 

And Karvala, just so you know this part isn't directly pointed to you, just a general vent I guess. This is just a topic I started contemplating and was curious what people thought of her leadership... if it was acceptable and reasonable or if it was not. I don't care if it is legal for her to impose the tattoo policy, or whether or not the tattoo policy should even be in place, etc. I don't care. It wasn't the point of the thread. The point was if this woman was being hypocritical in setting the policy but not following it herself. Honestly this issue isn't even that big of a deal to me, I just started thinking about it and thought "eh, maybe I'll make a thread and see what other people think" Maybe I didn't make that very clear in my original post and the point has become obscure, as people are telling me to "quit my job and do it my way if I have such a big problem with it". Sigh...

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in the US employers can do whatever they like. Your options are simple. Do what they say or find another job.

 

 

Basically yes, and I don't think that it's an issue. Relative to most other countries, you have the flexiblity of getting an education and working very hard to move up in life within the U.S. This is not the case for many countries in this world.

 

I've had employer struggles before as well, unrelated to tats, but it's how the system works. Make them happy or move on, and this especially holds when the salary/responsibility increases.

 

And that is why you never get a tattoo on your neck or forearm in the first place.

 

Basically. I know people who were surprised/shocked when employers or other people ended up giving them a hard time over this. Your personal life is your personal life, but dude, you have visible tats and you want to represent me/my firm to others?!

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I may not be popular for this, but I feel that if a person saves earns or inherits enough money and risks that money to start a business that that person should have great latitude in deciding what sort of environment they want their customers greeted by. I firmly believe that a person should have the right to tattoo their body in whatever manner they see fit. And if they chose to start a business, they should be free to hire only those with tattoos. If the owner chooses a manager and puts them in charge of their business, then that manger has a responsibility to the owner, to create the the desired environment. People who get tattoos must know that all people might not greet it with equal enthusiasm and they decide to bear that burden on themselves.

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