Can I Be Fired Because of My Dressing Style or Tattoo?

It’s a common question – and the answer is maybe. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are some general principles that may apply in your situation.

If you have been fired from your job or are worried that you may be fired because of how you dress or a tattoo, it’s essential to understand your rights. Read on to learn more about wrongful termination and how it may apply in your case.

a man and a woman in formal office attire portraying their dressing style so they don't get fired

What is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason. There are many unlawful reasons for firing an employee, but some of the most common include discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. You may have a claim for wrongful termination if you can show that you were fired for an illegal reason.


You might have a claim for wrongful termination if you were fired for any of the following reasons:

  • Discrimination:
    • Your race, national origin, religion, sex or age;
    • A disability or pregnancy;
  • Retaliation:
    • If you were fired because you complained about discrimination or harassment at work;
    • If you refused to do something that would have violated the law, such as perjury;
  • Breach of Contract:
    • If you were fired in violation of the terms of the contract

If you believe that you were discriminated against, a victim of retaliation, or breach of contract, you should contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss your case.

What Are My Rights When it Comes to Dress and Tattoos?

There is no federal law that prohibits employers from firing employees based on their dress or tattoos. However, some states, such as California, have laws that protect employees from being fired based on these things.

In addition, some employers have policies that prohibit employees from having certain types of tattoos. If you have a policy-based claim, you may have a claim for breach of contract.

Grooming Policies & Employer Dress Codes

Your employer may have a dress code or grooming policy that requires employees to dress a certain way. If you were fired for violating these policies, you likely do not have a claim for wrongful termination. Policies prohibiting certain types of dress or grooming are generally legal as long as they are not discriminatory.

For example, a policy prohibiting employees from having visible tattoos may be legal. However, a policy prohibiting employees from having tattoos, regardless of whether they are visible, may be illegal if it disproportionately affects people of a certain race or religion.

Freedom of Speech

The constitution’s First Amendment protects an individual’s right to expression of free speech. For many people, their tattoos serve as a form of self-expression. As such, some courts have found that firing an employee because of their tattoos may violate their right to free speech. However, this is not always the case, and it largely depends on the specific facts of each situation.

You have the right to express your views on political and social issues. However, this right is not absolute. You can be fired for expressing your views if it interferes with your job performance or the functioning of your workplace. For example, you could be fired for posting racist comments on social media if you work in a customer-facing role.

Questions To Ask Your Attorney if You were Fired

When meeting with an attorney, be sure to ask about:

  • The laws that apply to your case
  • The strength of your claim
  • The evidence you will need to prove your claim
  • How long do you have to file a claim
  • The potential damages you may be awarded
  • The likelihood of success
  • Whether you should file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s fair employment agency

Contact Napoli Shkolnik For Experienced Employment Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been fired for their dress or tattoos, you may have a claim for wrongful termination. The experienced attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik can help you understand your rights and options. We have represented many clients in wrongful termination cases, and we can help you as well. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.