Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace?

I had someone reach out to me who works for a corner deli/country store in a small town. For privacy reasons, I will call her Ashley. She stated that the owner, a female, implemented a policy stating that no one can have visible tattoos or piercings during their shift.  

Ashley only has her ears pierced so she doesn't have to worry about the policy. However, it has affected her. There were a total of 6 associates. Once the policy was enacted on May 1, 2018, employees were asked to cover up their tattoos or piercings or remove the piercings. Being that 2 associates were "younger" as Ashley described, they felt that this was judgmental and violating their freedom. The employees refused to "conform" to the owner's policy and one stopped coming into work and the other walked out. The employee that walked out caused a scene in anger and Ashley was left to cover the shift after already working a full day.

She also now has more hours than she originally had wanted to work. She was looking for something part-time as she takes courses at the local community college year round. She is now working 40 hours and is overwhelmed where her grades suffered this past semester. She feels that due to the owner's views, it is somewhat a form of discrimination. Even though she does not have any, it has affected her. She then further became frustrated when the owner's boyfriend came in one day with a large tattoo on his forearm. She feels that this is hypocritical and is questioning remaining there as an employee.

I asked her if she had a conversation with the owner and she said that she was terrified to because the owner is "nasty and rules with fear." It is Ashley's decision if she wants to poke the bear, remain quiet and anxious, give notice, or just quit. She has to come to that decision alone. Even though I know what I would do, I can't give advice because we are different. People have to make their own choices and I can only share things about me and ask for others' experiences.  An approach that would work for me, may not work for her.  

She asked me if I could write about it and share my views. I do not have any views on this either way because I pass no judgment on tattoos and piercings. Tattoos and piercings in the workplace was an insignificant topic to me. I feel that tattoos are a form of self-expression. I can state that I have 5 tattoos, but they are not visible when I am out in public or working. I thought carefully about getting them because there are people who do not like them. That is their opinion that they are entitled to and I respect that.

I had to work with my friend who is a tattoo artist to strategically place the tattoos so they would  make sense as to what I wanted to project. I made the choice that they would not be visible to the public eye. I never wanted to be judged in the workplace because I had a visible tattoo. People are actually shocked when they learn I have 5. I wanted the tattoos and chose to get them, but also chose to represent myself where no one would see them.  

Despite wanting more to finish the "work of art", which documents pivotal points in my life, it takes me time to decide on the placement, size, and symbol because of the image I choose to maintain in the public eye.  

I think this is a good discussion topic, I would love to hear everyone's ideas, experiences, and thoughts. If you feel that tattoos are an issue, please share your views, but not in attack-mode. I am opening the comments for this post. Remember this space is to inspire, build people up, share, and be kind. If you think tattoos are "ugly" then say, I think they are "ugly", but don't use this website for personal propaganda. If you want to spew nastiness and negativity, then I suggest you share your views on Facebook, which is a negativity breeding ground.  

I know I will not react to it and I hope others do not feed the wild animals if I get any roaming on my pasture. 

K. Flay "Mean It"

K. Flay "Mean It"