Natalie Attired was denied unemployment compensation because she was terminated due to ‘misconduct’. Ms. Attired is appealing the court’s decision stating that refusal to remove a tattoo is not grounds for ‘misconduct’.
In May 2009, Ms. Attired started her job as a waitress at the Biddy’s Tea House in Truth or Consequences, NM. She worked full time serving sandwiches, scones and desserts. Every three months Ms. Attired was evaluated. Her job performance was fine and she received positive evaluations. The areas she needed improvement were not significant; Ms. Attired seemed to fulfill her job obligations. In June 2010, Natalie had a tattoo engraved on her arm; the owner of Biddy’s expressed opposition and threatened to fire Ms. Attired. Ms. Biddy told Ms. Attired that unless she will remove the tattoo, she will be fired. Ms. Attired refused to have the tattoo removed, and was consequently fired the following Friday. Ms. Attired filed for unemployment insurance in July 2010 and her claim was denied. Ms. Attired’s unemployment benefits were denied by the NM Employment Security Board claiming that she was fired for “misconduct” and therefore ineligible for benefits. There was nothing stating that Ms. Attired’s tattoo caused a decrease in sales.
The questions being presented are whether or not Ms. Attired’s refusal to remove her tattoo when instructed to do so by her employer constituted ‘misconduct’ as defined by N.M. Stat. Ann. §51-1-; and was there proof provided that Ms. Attired’s new tattoo did in fact negatively affect business causing a reduction in sales or profits.
Ms. Attired’s refusal to remove her tattoo, by itself does not constitute misconduct, as there was no written or verbal code of conduct from the owner of Biddy’s. Therefore there was no rule or policy in place stating that tattoos were not allowed in the workplace. Ms. Baker, the owner of Biddy’s, has mentioned that there had been complaints from multiple customers not wanting to sit in...