As the temperatures rise in Texas to triple digits many employers are left to decide whether to dial up the air conditioning, or relax the dress code policy and risk issues in the office with skimpier attire that may show more than they want to see, including, for some, unwelcome tattoos.
The number of Americans donning tattoos has risen dramatically in the last few years. In fact, a 2015 study by The Harris Poll shows that 29 percent of Americans now have at least one tattoo, and the number increases with nearly half of Millennials (47%) and over a third of Gen Xers (36%),?
“Many employers might not have company policies that address tattoos,” said Pamela Williams, partner at labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips’ Houston office. “It is important they develop a dress and grooming policy based on the company’s best interests. The policy may also need to outline what is appropriate for different positions within the company.
For example, a non-visible tattoo policy may be appropriate for positions in customer service, but not for those who have no customer contact. Exceptions to the policy should be made for tattoos that have a religious affiliation. Other than tattoos that have religious connections, tattoo and summer dress code policies should be consistently enforced for both men and women.” ?
If tattoos and summer attire cross the line between office-appropriate and too revealing, employers need to be cautious when enforcing dress code compliance.
Here are the top five tips for employers on how to handle their company’s summer dress code:
· Make sure you have a written dress code policy detailing what is acceptable and unacceptable, with examples.
· Communicate policies with all employees. It is often beneficial to require employees to sign a form acknowledging the policies.
· Consistently enforce policies; only make exceptions when you are compelled to do so in order to reasonably accommodate employees based on a protected class (religion, ethnicity, etc.). ?
· Enforce the same, or similar, policies for both men and women. If it is absolutely necessary to include different standards, make sure neither gender faces a greater burden.
· If there is a need to address the attire of the opposite sex, it is typically best to have a person of the same sex as the employee present in order to avoid liability. ?
Savvy employers will communicate and implement policies before issues arise, lest a wayward employee claim that the rules unfairly target them. When reviewing or forming a dress code, be sure it is reasonable, nondiscriminatory, and founded on legitimate business needs. ?
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That’s why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases.
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