Don Mattingly

My favorite baseball player growing up was Yankees’ first baseman Don Mattingly.  Mattingly was an outstanding left handed hitter who never won a title with Bronx Bombers.  In the summer of 1991, Mattingly refused to get his haircut and the Yankees benched and fined him.  Employee dress code and appearance policies are nothing new, not even for high-paid athletes.

One of the more interesting posts from a few years ago was the Army’s tattoo policy.  Years ago, the Army had a policy that prevented soldiers from having tattoos.  That doesn’t work now, there aren’t enough prospective soldiers out there to simply exclude all folks that have them.  The Army is no different than many other employers.  Of course what is acceptable in certain professions doesn’t work in others.

I remember interviewing a potential candidate for a receptionist position in our law firm.  The candidate had a the infinity symbol on their wrist.  It wasn’t obnoxious and hardly noticeable but it did stand out and we actually discussed it.  The candidate was hired and did a fine job.

A high tone ski resort I know of doesn’t permit its employees to have facial hair, non-traditional piercings,  or tattoos that are visible.  Most ski resorts don’t have those types of policies.  But the high tone ski resort is trying (successfully) to appeal to a higher end demographic in what already an economically selective customer base.

These types of policies normally don’t violate the law and the employer can impose these types of restrictions.  Of course, they may be excluding potentially good candidates for employment.  As tattoos and piercings become more acceptable, employers (like the Army) have to adapt.  The challenge for the employer is balancing what is balancing what is appropriate in the workplace with what is culturally acceptable.  They are not always the same.