I'm going to get back into the habit of addressing day-to-day workplace issues that young workers face in the course of their jobs. Today's post is right up that alley as it's all about the permissibility of tattoos and piercings. This is a thorny issue that has been stirring for decades as tattoos are perceived to be "sinful", wrongly of course, by certain quarters of the Canadian population. The perception of people with tattoos is changing as the younger (and more tatted) generation enters the labour market. Mainly the issue centres around inter-generational tensions, stereotypes, and ingrained prejudices.
Recently an arbitrator ruled that an Ontario employer was not allowed to force employees to cover-up large tattoos or remove body piercing. The decision was made in the context of an unionized workplace and relied upon the KVP principles which holds that workplace rules imposed by employers must be "reasonable". I'm not going to delve much into the legal background, but here's the actual decision and Doorey's Workplace Law Blog breaks down the legalities.
In the decision, the arbitrator ruled that the rules governing large tattoos and piercings had no legitimate business reason associated to them and goes on to essentially toss the rule out. It's important to note that the precedent that this decision sets would only apply to unionized employees. Sadly the vast majority of young workers in Canada work in non-unionized workplaces are out of luck when it comes to contesting rules on piercings and tattoos as they have no one advocating on their behalf; however, if it could be proved that the tattoos or piercings relate to an enumerated ground under Ontario's Human Rights Code then a worker might have an opportunity to contest a rule.
If you've have been the target of harassment or discipline at work due to your tattoos let me know via email or leave a comment below. I've culled a few articles on the issue, see: here, here, and here.