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"extreme" body art and fine dining

Can an owner/manager choose not to hire folks with alternative/extreme body art? Or is it/would be considered prejudicial/discrimination?

The art of ear gauging grosses me out. It is a visceral reaction and even when it is not at its most extreme it makes me nauseous to look at. I get that it is my issue and people can do what they want. Their bodies/their choice. Most the places I dine in are pretty traditional. The servers wear some kind of “uniform”, the front of the house is usually “dressed up”. Even the local, hole in the wall places are pretty traditional as well. But I also know that when I head into the city or go to more artsy areas it’s going to be something I am going to run into and I need to get over it.

Until recently I had never encountered any extreme body art (facial tattoos, visible facial/body piercings, ear gauging, etc) in a “fine dining” or “upscale” establishment. For those around this area I am talking about places like Tosca, Square Café, Clio, No. 9 Park, Craigie and the like. Have I just been there on the off nights and it is actually more common to see these things or do you think higher end places aren’t hiring people with extreme body art. Are they even allowed to do that?? I have seen regular ear piercings, including multiples, the occasional ankle/arm/wrist/leg tattoo (which not so long was considered "extreme") so Its seems like they couldn’t discriminate against one and not the other.

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  1. Thanks for bringing this up. It was immediately erased from the other thread.
    I think it's a great question and I have no idea :).

    1. Body art is not a protected class, so a business can choose to not hire someone based on their tattoos or other body art.

      1. Business owners can hire whoever they want. I own a business in a conservative industry and I am very careful when hiring. My personnel manual addresses appearance as well.

        On a personal note, I don't mind any extreme body art and think it looks great on many people. Just not in my business.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          Interesting, thank you. Would you mind telling me how you handle it? If someone has tattoos but agrees to have them covered? if they remove their nose ring prior to arriving for work? If someone applied for a job with something that couldn’t be covered would you still except their application or tell them not to apply?

          (feel free not answer if I am being too nosey. I am just fascinated!)

          My old company got in legal trouble for requiring the associates to wear the company's brand of clothing unless the clothing was provided free of charge. It was still "encouraged" and I know managers who would not hire people they felt couldn’t "dress the part"-which also included how they wore their hair, makeup etc.

          1. re: foodieX2

            Sure, It is pretty easy...you just tell them. Literally, I tell them they need to appear business conservative/casual. Hair color in the natural spectrum, business casual clothes, no body art observable.

            If they smell like an ashtray, they will not make it in my office either. If they have questions about something, they can ask me. It is surprising how many young people don't have a definition of business casual or even understand what business phone etiquette is.

            I am willing to teach for a great young person willing to learn. The ones not willing to learn can go work somewhere else because I don't have time to make it a discussion or debate. I think I typify most business owners with my attitude. If I owned a coffee shop, I might seek out employees with cool tattoos and piercings! It is all about what the owner is trying to create in their business.

            I accept all resumes, 98 percent go into the trash anyway. I look up (the 2 percent that make the first cut) on facebook and YouTube. If they have public "idiot" photos or video, they go into the trash as well.

        2. Since the sort of body modification you describe is not a protected class, it's not "discrimination" to not hire someone based on it.

          I'd be surprised if there were any un-inked servers at Craigie, but I tend not to notice tattoos anymore unless they are facial ones.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LeoLioness

            At craigie you see load of upper arm tats as well as leg but I was specifically talking about what (today) is considered extreme-facial tats, facial piercings, etc. Things you can't avoid being confronted with or that can't be covered.

          2. I totally agree with "their bodies/their choice", but I also believe, in this instance, "my business/ my choice".