Big government tattoo artists

CEI has nothing against tattoos. Some of our staffers proudly sport them. And we generally have a live-and-let-live, libertarian philosophy.

But now, in a twist, it seems the tattooed are the ones displaying intolerance. Over at, editor Joseph Farah reports that firms that don’t allow employees to sport tattoos or body piercings may now face discrimination “lawsuits from members of a new activist lobby representing the ever-growing population of those into ‘body modification.’”

CEI recommends this article even though we don’t necessarily agree with all of Mr. Farah’s opinions against tattoos. The article reports that some cities in California have vaguely-worded laws prohibiting discrimination “based on appearance and behavior.” A wholesale club was sued was recently sued by a member of the “Church of Body Modification,” who griped that she should not have been required to remove a facial piercing as a condition of employment. The company wanted the piercing removed for both appearance and sanitation reasons. Mr. Farah quotes employment attorney David Barron as saying, “This time, the company prevailed in the action, but employers in a non-food handling workplace might not be so lucky.”

But as the article notes, there are plenty of other reasons why an employer would not want tattoos or piercings. It could clash with the atmosphere at an “upscale department store” or “fashionable restaurant.” Bottom line, it’s the employers money, and he or she should be have the freedom to make those calls. If the tattooed don’t like it, they should open their own stores and restaurants. Employers’ freedom to control run their businesses as they see fit is just as important as the freedom to get tattoos in the first place.

Makes me want to get a tattoo of the famous snake that says, “Don’t Tread on Me.”