Despite what we’ve seen in the last year, it is still true that the United States as a whole has made great strides in equality and inclusion over the last century.
Yet even with all of the advances, it is quite clear there are still areas with room for (massive) improvement). One of them is the workplace. Discrimination still exists and happens more often than one might think.
There are some areas of discrimination law that may confuse people. One question that has come up over the years is whether or not someone with a tattoo can be discriminated against in the workplace.
Learn more about where tattoos fit into the workplace and when discrimination laws do and do not apply.
Discrimination According to New York Law
Under federal laws, employers in New York cannot discriminate against employees based on certain characteristics, such as religion or race. In fact, federal law prohibits discrimination in the workplace in every state based on these characteristics:
- Citizenship status
- National origin
- Age (over 40)
Furthermore, in New York state it is also illegal to discriminate against someone based on the factors listed above as well as:
- Sex such as pregnancy or childbirth
- Age (over 18)
- Marital status
- Gender identity
- Genetic characteristics
- Sexual orientation
- Military status
- Familial status
- Use of a service dog
- The lawful use of products or any recreational activities when not at work
- Political activities
- Prior arrests
- Domestic violence victim status
- Observance of Sabbath
- Prior convictions
Cities, such as New York City, may also have additional anti-discrimination laws. For example, you cannot discriminate against someone based on credit history in New York City.
Local governments will have all the information you need to find out more about these laws in the city in which you live.
Who Has to Comply with Anti-Discrimination Laws?
Not every employer is required to comply with laws regarding discrimination. They have to have over 15 employees in regards to federal laws and four or more employees in regards to New York state anti-discrimination laws.
There are some exceptions to federal law, such as:
- Employers with 20 or more employees must abide by age discrimination laws
- Employers with four-plus employees must observe laws surrounding citizenship status
- All employers must provide equal pay between male and female employees
Where Do Tattoos Fit Into NY Discrimination Law?
More and more Americans are getting tattoos, which makes understanding employment discrimination surrounding tattoos really important.
Tattoos are not protected by discrimination laws. In fact, the law says that employers have the right to create and enforce a dress code in the workplace as it relates to their daily operations.
Why? Because both tattoos and body art are seen in the eyes of the law much the same way jewelry, shirts, or shoes are — as accessories.
The only instances in which a tattoo is protected is when it relates to a religious tenant or practice. In that case, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for the individual with the tattoo in the workplace.
It is also important to note that on the employer’s side, whatever dress code they may have must be enforced uniformly.
Failure to do so can be seen as discriminatory if someone feels they were targeted not due to their tattoos, but for some other reason that falls under the protected classes, such as gender.
If you feel you’re being discriminated against in the workplace, then take action. It is not OK for an employer to treat you differently for many reasons, but especially not because of reasons that are protected under the law.
If you have tattoos, then know your rights to make sure you aren’t truly being discriminated against as well.