Q. Can we set a dress code policy that bars visible tattoos and multiple piercing on our receptionist but not other workers who have less public contact? —D.O., Maryland
A. Your dress and grooming requirements may not discriminate against employees based on race, nationality, sex or religion under federal law. But you normally can impose reasonable dress and grooming requirements that are justified by a legitimate, nondiscriminatory business reason, such as public contact in your situation.
Safety concerns also may be a valid reason for setting different standards, such as barring machine operators from wearing jewelry and loose clothing.
Maryland law also allows employers to establish standards for employees' dress and for their grooming, provided the standards are directly related to the nature of the employment.