Corporate “Branding” and Individual Employee Rights

Some employers require tattoos to be covered while at work. Rapid Realty, a Brooklyn, New York, apartment rental agency, has taken the opposite tack.

Hands typing - tattoo laptopIf an agent gets a tattoo of the company logo, the company begins paying that agent its highest commission split, usually reserved for top producers. The company figures that if employees are dedicated enough to brand themselves with the company’s logo, they deserve a reward.

If your workplace bans visible tattoos and certain piercings, remember that tattoos and piercings can be part of religious or spiritual practices. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. It requires an employer to make an exception to dress and grooming requirements or preferences once it receives notice that a religious accommodation is needed, unless it would pose an undue hardship. Requiring an employee’s religious garb, marking or article of faith to be covered is not a reasonable accommodation if that would violate the employee’s religious beliefs.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a fact sheet on religious garb and grooming in the workplace; you can find it at


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