Companies can regulate their staff attire, but not tattoos

By law, no employer can prevent a worker from getting tattooed or stoned piercings, neither can a person’s entry into a job be made conditional on not having tattoos or body piercings. Specialists in labor matters assure that these acts can be classified as discrimination and can have both administrative and civil repercussions.

This weekend, a publication of the newspaper Reforma revealed information about a Dress code and coexistence in the office shared between the staff of the Legal Counsel of the Presidency of the Republic, in which public servants were ordered to hide tattoos and piercings during your workday.

Although the Legal Department denied having issued the document and stated that since it is not an official code, it lacks validity and legal effects, the controversy opened the debate on whether these measures can be imposed in a workplace.

The overwhelming answer to this question is: No. Federal Labor Law establishes a prohibition of discrimination for any physical, social, race or even religious condition. As well as physical appearance, such as piercings or tattoos ”, explains Jaime Rodríguez Eguiarte, lead partner of the Labor Practice of the firm Ibarra, del Paso y Gallego.

In its article 3, the Federal Labor Law (LFT) states that employers cannot set conditions that imply discrimination among workers for any reason. Discriminatory conduct is sanctioned with fines ranging from 22,405 to 448,100 pesos.

“Hide a tattoos o piercings for employment reasons for hiring issues, job promotions, not being fired, etc., it promotes job discrimination based on appearance, “says Andrew Richard Grepe, partner at GLZ Abogados.

According to the National Survey on Discrimination (Enadis), the 20% of the adult population In Mexico, he claims to have suffered some type of discrimination, the way of dressing or personal grooming is the main reason for these acts.

With regard to tattoos, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has ruled that the use of tattoos is protected by the right to free development of the personality and freedom of expression and, therefore, is not a reason to discriminate against their carriers.

Jaime Rodríguez considers that although there are some works where the limitation of tattoos or piercings, it is difficult for an employer not to cross the discrimination line when imposing these measures.

In this sense, the specialist points out that a worker who is fired for tattooing or using a piercing Or, access to work is conditioned on these aspects, you can sue the employer before a labor court, but there is also a guideline for demand compensationn by civil means due to non-pecuniary damage.

Andrew Richard agrees on this: “If a company decides to fire a worker for being tattooed or with piercings, the employee could not only allege an unjustified dismissal, but can also initiate a discrimination complaint before the Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, either at the state or federal level, as well as demand the reparation of the damage through criminal law and monetary compensation by civil means, if appropriate ”, he highlights.

Dress codes

The LFT does not refer as such to the dress codes and, therefore, they are a policy that organizations can implement. “You can ask that the person attend with a tie, a long-sleeved shirt, or hair up. Those are the clothing guidelines in which it is possible to interfere ”, explains Jaime Rodríguez.

From the perspective of the labor lawyer, the dress codes They do not qualify as acts of discrimination when they conform to a market practice, as in customer service in a bank branch. Although it is a very thin line because there is no exact criterion that indicates the limitation. In this context, the specialist recommends that companies evaluate their uniform policies and, if they have a doubt about a measure, it is likely that there are aspects of discrimination that should be reconsidered.

For Andrew Richard it is important that clothing policies respect recognized human rights, including the right to personality development, if you do not want to incur controversies or discriminatory issues.

In the Senate of the Republic an initiative was presented that seeks to establish the Federal Labor Law a prohibition on employers to establish dress rules that perpetuate stereotypes, such as heels for women.

The case of the Legal Counsel

In its clarification, the Legal Counsel informed that it will investigate the document published by Reforma to define responsibilities and assured that the only rules of behavior applicable to public servants of the agency are those established in the “Code of conduct” issued in September 2021.

This code includes 10 behaviors that must be observed in the public servants of the Ministry, as well as the actions that can be classified as ethical risks.

Based on the current document, this is the decalogue of bureaucrats that make up said office:

  • Help to achieve the objectives of the agency with the maximum capacity, knowledge, effort, and responsibility
  • You cannot grant undue preferences or privileges to people, companies and any institution, or act based on personal interests
  • The procedure must be with honesty and honesty towards any person
  • Serve and guide with efficiency, courtesy and a spirit of service to anyone
  • Always choose the best option for the unit in full compliance with the obligations of the position
  • Use the information and resources entrusted only for the purposes assigned
  • Offer to co-workers and anyone else a treatment based on mutual respect, courtesy and fairness
  • Action must be governed by objectivity and impartiality
  • Responsibilities in office cannot be evaded
  • The information provided by other government agencies and entities cannot be used for functions outside the Ministry.

In practical terms, the code of conduct current has not had changes compared to its 2020 edition and contains the same number of observable behaviors.

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