National Oil & Lube News

February 2017

Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry

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February 2017 | NOLN 49 Body Art in the Workplace Tattoos are, at times, included as a part of the dress code in the workplace, but frequently listed as a category of their own. "irty years ago, only one out of every 100 people had a tattoo," Park- er explained. "Today, one out of every 10 people have tattoos." Due to the increase in number, this has become a topic of frequent discussion among employers. Are you as an employer allowed to deny someone a job because of their tattoos? "Yes," Parker said. "You can tell a prospect that their tattoos do not fit the company's image." You can also hire someone who is covered in tattoos and tell them that those tattoos need to be covered up when they are on the job. "Starbucks is a good example of this, as they do not allow tattoos on employees' necks or faces," Parker continued. "is is because they want the customers to focus on the coffee and not on body art." If you're interested in seeing what their dress code looks like, you can Google "Starbucks Making an Appearance" to find a complete list of guidelines. Piercings and Head Scarves Can employers tell their employees to remove piercings while on the job? Yes, you do have this right. Body art is not a protected class. "A protected class is something that cannot be infringed upon," Parker described. "An employer cannot infringe upon an employee's race, sex, religion, gender identity, age and so on." So, what about turbans? If the employee wears the turban for religious purposes, then an employer may not interfere, however if the turban is simply used for fashion purposes, then the employer may ask that the turban or head scarf be removed. "e exception to this rule of protected classes, is if you, the employer, cannot reasonably accommodate the employee's request due to safety or performance purposes," Parker stated. "For example, if a construction worker wants to wear a turban underneath a hardhat and it isn't safe to do so, you may then ask the employee to remove it while doing that particular job." Relationships in the Workplace Do same sex partners have to be added to the employee's insurance plan if they make the request? Yes, and there is a simple way to go about this to keep yourself protected. "Let your insurance company tell your employees what the require- ments are," Parker expressed. "You don't want to be the bad guy, and what you do for one employee, you have to do for all. erefore, if you request a marriage license from one employee because you know the insurance company will ask for it but don't request one from another employee, this makes you vulnerable." It's best to take yourself out of the situation, and simply let the insur- ance company tell the employee what documentation should be provid- ed. Photos Many shops have a "wall of fame" of employees they recognize for good service, longevity of employment, employee badges and many other scenarios. at being said, can you require employees to allow you to use photos taken in the workplace? "is is perfectly acceptable based on a number of reasons," Parker said. "It can be because of company engagement, retention or even safe- ty reasons." If your place of work ever had to be evacuated, a complete list of pho- tos can help safety personnel and you, the owner, account for everyone. Federal Labor Law Postings Your employees need to know their rights, so whether it's something as common as Spanish or as uncommon as Swahili, here in the states, protect yourself and keep your employees informed. "If more than 10 percent of your workforce speaks a language other than English, you are required to have employee rights' posters in those languages as well," Parker said. "e reason you want to do this, is so an employee can't say in court that you didn't provide them any documen- tation in their own language, so how were they supposed to understand what their rights were." Language Another frequently asked question is, can you require your employ- ees to speak English? "Yes, but only in certain situations," Parker continued. "You have to provide a specific reason why you need your employees to speak a spe- cific language. For example, when they are around customers to provide fluid service." You can't just require your employees to speak one language without giving a solid, relevant reason. If there aren't customers around and a couple of employees wish to speak to one another in their own language, you want to be very careful about how you approach the situation. Undocumented Workers If you find out one of your employees is not a legally documented worker, it becomes your responsibility to address the situation. "You need to speak with the employee in question and let them know you have been made aware they may not be legally allowed to work in the United States," Parker explained. "You then need to ask them to provide you with proper documentation that proves otherwise." is is another reason why it's so important to have all relevant paper- work completed when you hire an employee from their start date. e I-9 form can protect you from being fined for this very reason. If it turns out that an employee is not legally allowed to work in the United States, "You as the employer would still pay that employee ev- erything that they are owed including vacation pay, and the IRS will deal with it from there," Parker said. Final Thoughts While it's certainly important to understand your rights and how to han- dle these sometimes delicate scenarios, it's also crucial to keep the culture of your business in the forefront of your mind. Just because something is well within your legal rights, doesn't mean it won't have a negative effect on the way your employees view you or your business. Hopefully this article will help you reasonably accommodate your employees and understand your rights as an employer. If you have any questions you'd like to ask Kim Parker or want to learn about how to join the California Employers Association, she can be reached at: kparker@employers.org You can also find information on the association's website at: www.employers.org S

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