Facial Tattoos, Mini-Skirts and Your Company Dress Code

The two managers saw Sam walk past them and did a double double-take.  “Look at that new tattoo on the side of his face.  Can he do that here?”

Can he?

Even something as extreme as a facial tattoo may be allowable in the work place.  There is no federal law regarding employee dress code.  Employers may set any guidelines they wish, as long as they do not discriminate on the basis of any federally protected category (race, religion, age, etc.).

Most workplaces have some form of casual dress code, whether as standard dress or some days of the week or times of the year.  Typically, dress code allows for casual but professional clothing, but limits such items as sneakers, torn jeans, or tight-fitting tops.  Over-the-top accessories and, yes, visible tattoos may also be forbidden.  Even outwardly identifiable religious dress may be not allowed, if, for instance, the employer requires wearing a standard uniform.

You should base your policy on “business related” reasons, including public image and complying with health and safety standards.    The policy should be clearly communicated in your Employee Handbook and should be enforced uniformly (no pun intended).  Preferential treatment or “looking the other way” is a slippery slope.  Employees need and want rules to follow.

Sample Policy 

Personal Appearance

The Company is a professional business based on the trust and goodwill it engenders from its clients. In addition to providing excellent services, clients only do business with the Company if they are also treated with courtesy, patience and appropriate deference. You are to treat all clients with the utmost courtesy. You will be evaluated in your performance appraisal in this category.

Since clients tend to think in terms of the individual employees with whom they come in contact with at the Company, the way you perform your job and treat the individual client will determine, in part, the client’s satisfaction with the Company. A good employee will approach his / her job duties and responsibilities with a positive attitude and respect. A neat personal appearance and good grooming habits reflect respect for yourself and your workplace.

Expensive clothing is not necessary for a well-groomed appearance. You are to wear clothing appropriate for a professional business office. If you have any questions, discuss with your supervisor or the Human Resources Department.

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