Tattoos, body piercings, dreadlocks – the Millennial generation (and perhaps workers from the “flower power” era) oftentimes have adopted fashions that could be considered “non-traditional.” These days, this issue has become increasingly relevant. According to a February 2016 Harris Poll, three in 10 Americans have a tattoo and usually they do not stop with just one.
So what can a business do if a job applicant disguises his or her appearance for an interview by hiding tattoos and piercings? Can an organization legally fire a candidate who then arrives at work with body modifications for all to see?
In many corporate environments, the cultural norm has not kept up with Millennial trends. Human Resource departments across the country have never considered adding body modifications to dress code policies. This is an issue that should definitely be addressed.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states companies with 15 or more workers “must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious practices unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.” Quite a few states have extended similar protections to employees at businesses with less than 15 workers.
But what happens if job candidates cover their tattoos with makeup or perhaps dye their hair a different color and then show up on the first day with “tats” and green locks? GroupOne Background Screening believes the intentional hiding of personal characteristics is akin to claiming a skill the candidate doesn’t possess.
Human Resource departments should inform applicants about workplace expectations during the candidate’s evaluation to include policies regarding tattoos and other non-traditional hair styles and body modifications. Companies should also reestablish policies for dress and appearance in a written document for all new employees to sign prior to employment.
Such a policy will put new employees on notice they will need to cover up any non-traditional body modifications or face possible termination. For more on this subject, check out this helpful article by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).