What can a business owner do if an applicant alters his or her physical appearance for an interview, hiding tattoos, piercings, and other non-traditional body art? Can the organization subsequently fire candidates who come to work without disguising their body modifications? These questions will often run through a business owner’s mind as they go through the hiring process.
With the Millennial generation (and many workers from other eras) widely adopting non-traditional body adornments, this issue will become increasingly relevant. According to a February 2016 Harris Poll, 47 percent of Millennials and 36 percent of Gen X respondents have at least one “tat.”
In many industries, corporate cultures and acceptance levels have not kept up with this trend. Additionally, many decision-makers may never have considered adding body modifications to their dress code policies. Moving forward, most will need to address this issue.
What Can Employers Legally Do?
Whether or not employers can take action against an employee depends on the reason for the modification.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that employers with 15 or more employees “must reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious practices unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.” Many states extend similar anti-discriminatory protections to employees of businesses with fewer than 15 workers.
Is “Covering Up” Lying?
Returning to our original question, what happens if job candidates cover their tattoos with makeup for a job interview, dye their brown hair green afterward, then show up in “full color” on Day One?
In our view, intentionally hiding a distinctive personal characteristic that Title VII does not protect is no different from claiming a skill set that the candidate doesn’t possess. It is disingenuous at best. Nevertheless, there are valid reasons why someone might cover a tattoo or change their hair color that may not represent an intentional falsehood. This is where things can get complicated, and companies should proceed cautiously while staying on top of the laws in their state.
How Can These Issues Be Avoided?
To ensure applicants are informed about workplace expectations, hiring managers should communicate company policies to job seekers regarding body art and other non-traditional body modifications during the candidate evaluation phase. If it is a significant concern for your company, showing at every level of the hiring process that you have set standards could prove helpful.
Additionally, organizations should reconfirm policies for dress and appearance in a formal, written document that all new hires sign as a condition of employment. This approach puts new hires on notice that they will need to cover up any non-protected body modifications and face possible dismissal if they do not. Making them aware of this before the hiring is complete is crucial.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published a helpful article on this topic that you might find valuable in your efforts.
What Other Tools Can I Use for the Hiring Process?
Deciding on a new hire is one of the most important things a business does, which is why it is crucial to ensure that you are selecting the ideal prospect for your business.
Vigorous background checks and employment screening services can help expedite the process and leave you confident in your choice.
If you do not have the time or energy to take your hiring process as seriously as it should, let the Barada Associates team help! We offer extensive background check and employment screening services for a multitude of industries, for companies big and small.
Contact Barada Associates Today!
As one of the nation’s most well-respected employment services and background check companies, we have the expertise to advise you on any hiring process questions.
Additionally, our services cover a wide range of industries; if you want to hear more about how we can help you and your business, contact us today!