When 27-year-old Kayla was hired by Starbucks five years ago, she had a dime-sized tattoo in the outline of a heart at the base of her left thumb and index finger. It's a tiny, sweet little bit of ink that means something special to her, and she never tried to hide it or cover it up.

Now her job is being threatened because of the tiny tattoo, as it violates the coffee chain's long-standing policy against employees having any visible tattoos. Kayla said she was unaware such a policy existed, and she's devastated she may lose her job over it.

Kayla is one of those rare breeds who actually loves her job. She calls Starbucks "an awesome place to work ... we have great benefits. I have health benefits, dental, vision, they offer 401K plans, retirement plans, we get stocks."

She thinks it's ludicrous that she may lose it all because of her itty bitty tattoo. "It's just a little heart you can cover it up with your thumb. It's a little heart. It's not offensive to anybody," she said. "Now, I am being told after five years of having this tattoo being hired in that I have to get rid of it or resign from my job."

She's been putting makeup on over it, and even leaves the makeup at work so she can never forget it, but it doesn't seem to be enough to mollify her corporate employers. She was told by both her manager and her district manager that she has 30 days to begin the removal process, or she will have to resign.

Starbucks global corporate communications manager issued a statement about the ordeal:

Out of respect for our partners', who we refer to as our employees, privacy we do not discuss individual employee details. I can tell you that our tattoo policy states that partners cannot have visible tattoos. This is part of our dress code policy and is discussed with our candidates during the interview process.

Kayla says she's not planning on having the tattoo removed, and I can't say that I blame her. I hear it hurts a heck of a lot worse than the tattoo itself. Besides, it just seems so silly.

I totally get Starbucks compliance issue. They are a private corporation, they're allowed to have a tattoo policy, and they're certainly well within their rights to say not having visible tattoos is required for the job.

But Kayla's been working there five years. Five! Why is this just now coming up? You think they'd make an exception on enforcing the rule for employees who were hired without knowing about the policy, and have worked there for years. It seems like there has to be something more going on here, because the timing on this just doesn't make any sense.

Do you think Kayla should have to have her tattoo removed in order to keep her job?

 

Image via Austin Baker/Flickr