Piercing Discrimination

I’m constantly discriminated against, and nobody cares. I mean, I know people have it worse, but I still have a case to make, and no one wants to hear it. So I’m writing it here, and I don’t care if no one ever reads this, I’ll have it down in writing, and that’s something at least.

My situation is this: I love piercings. It’s a lifelong love, and I’m not ashamed of any of the ones I sport. I wear ear gauges and nose piercings. I have eyebrow piercings and a lip gauge. I love it. I love how they make me look.

My boss does not love it, however. Every time I come into work, he makes me take my gauges out, even though I look ridiculous that way. He always relents five minutes later and sighs over it, but he still humiliates me every shift.

He says he has a right to do this because I’m in customer service and customers don’t like how I look. I’ve actually gotten a lot of compliments on my piercings, and no one has ever walked out the door after seeing me, so I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about, but apparently, he has the law on his side.

I was just going to accept this and continue to take my gauges out and put them back in every time I walked through the door at 5 (I work evenings, six days a week), but a couple of days ago my boss took me back to his office and fired me.

He didn’t say it like that; he didn’t say “you’re fired!” He didn’t look angry or anything. He just said the company had found some new employees, and that he thought it was time I moved on.

Can you believe that? What does that even mean? I told him I was a good employee, that I always showed up on time, that I’d barely missed a day since I started working, that I knew all the rules and followed them. His response: “Actually…” And that was it. He just moved on. He said he would give me a reference and wished me luck.

The thing is, I hated that job, I won’t miss it. But I can’t believe he fired me, and I’m pretty sure it was for my piercings. What blows my mind is we have another guy who works there who is neck to ankle in tattoos, and my boss is always going on about how he wishes he was brave enough to get a tattoo or how he thinks he’d look great with a sleeve or something like that. My tattooed co-worker, by the way, is still employed. These new employees apparently didn’t need his position.

Anyway, what I want now is to stand up for my rights. I’ve been discriminated against, and I want them to pay for it. But it looks like, from what I see, that I don’t count when it comes to discrimination laws. Those only apply to things like race and sex. Me, I’m just out of a job because of how I look. I guess that’s just fine in this country.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

In 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits forbids employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or above. This law is mandated on employers who have, at least, 20 employees. Through ADEA, the following are, likewise, prohibited:

  • Discrimination against job applicants and employees in hiring, wage, job promotion, termination of employment and layoffs
  • Mention of age preference and limitations in job advertisements
  • Denial of fringe benefits to older employees

ADEA addresses the problem of age discrimination that has been prevalent for so long. This age-old concern of the

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) partly stems from employers’ belief that older workers are usually over-qualified, harder to train, are not as agile and active as younger individuals, and are prone to bailing out as soon as a better job offer is given them.

According to the website of employment law firm Cary Kane, LLP, besides prohibiting discriminatory acts based on age, ADEA also prohibits harassment of older employees, which may be committed, for example, through offensive and/or unpleasant remarks regarding a person’s age. While simple and light teasing are not prohibited by any law, these acts, if done frequently and result to the creation of an offensive or hostile work environment, lead to unfavorable employment decisions, such as demotion or firing of the older employee, can be considered harassment and, thus, a violation of the mandates of ADEA.

In cases wherein a job advertisement specifies an age limit, resulting to the actual hiring of a younger individual instead of an older applicant, so long as age is a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) for the job, such as a young adult role in a play, then the inclusion of the age limit and the hiring of the younger applicant become legally acceptable.

There are many employers, however, who persist in their practice of hiring younger job applicants and, thus, may be committing a violation of ADEA in the process. Those who feel and believe that they have been discriminated due to their age can seek legal advice to correctly determine if they, indeed, have been subjected to such discriminatory act.