When a Tattoo Equals a Lawsuit

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|August 21, 2012

Casual dress codes have become standard in many workplaces, especially in young startups. It’s increasingly acceptable in many offices to find employees wearing T-shirts, shorts, sandals, or with visible tattoos and piercings.

But relaxed or vague company dress codes can lead to misunderstanding and even lawsuits. For example, a former U.S. Marine recently filed suit against Union Pacific Railroad after he was fired for his military-related upper-arm tattoo that was termed obscene and threatening. The veteran is currently seeking lost wages and punitive damages for discrimination, retaliation and wrongful firing in federal court.

So how do employers tread the thin line between fostering a relaxed and creative work environment while making sure that employees’ tattoos or clothing isn’t offensive to others in the office?

Tamara Devitt, managing partner at labor law firm Fisher & Phillips in Los Angeles, recommends that employers

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