The decision was consistent with a 2011 decision, where an arbitrator struck down an Ontario Provincial Police policy requiring all 9,000 police to cover visible tattoos. The policy was considered too broad, but the organization has gone back to the drawing board to try to find some middle ground that might include banning face and neck tattoos.
In 2009 a Quebec judge found a daycare’s ban “rests on prejudices. Tattooing nowadays is a phenomenon that cuts across all levels of society,” Judge Jean Bouchard wrote. “If it was once associated with delinquents, that’s no longer the case.”
The daycare’s policy forced an employee with a tattoo of a butterfly or flower on her forearm or calf to wear pants or a long-sleeved shirt, even while working under a hot summertime sun – which the judge described as “ridiculous and outrageous”.
The daycare still has the right to prohibit inappropriate tattoos including those expressing violence.
Can you have a tattoo policy at your office?
- Canadian’s Human Rights don’t protect employee’s rights to have and show tattoos, unless they are for religious or cultural reasons.
- Your policy needs to be consistent for all genders and races, but can specify differences between roles. For example customer service staff might have to cover up where storeroom staff do not.
- Asking someone to cover potentially offensive tattoos is acceptable, but if tested a broad-reaching policy could be found unreasonable in court.
Does your organization have a tattoo policy? How did you develop and enforce it?