May an employer ban tattoos and piercings in the workplace?

Author: Jill Gormley, Strong and Clear Communications

Yes. An employer has the ability to require that employees appear professional and may ban visible tattoos and body piercings in its workforce, but it must ban all visible tattoos and piercings, not just certain types. In order to avoid possible claims of discrimination, applicants should be informed of the policy before they are hired.

Further, an employer may be required to accommodate an employee's request to wear a visible tattoo or piercing if it is required by the employee's religion or ethnicity unless granting the accommodation would cause an undue hardship for the employer. An employer may be able to demonstrate an undue hardship by showing that an employee's tattoo or body piercing takes away from the employer's neat, clean and professional image or demonstrating that there is a safety reason for banning a particular body piercing.