Letter to the Editor in the 9/12/06 issue:
To the Editor:
This is an experience I went through at (the) Harley-Davidson plant in Tomahawk.
I was hired by Allied Barton Security on March 20, 2006 (which Allied is contracted through Harley-Davidson, for security).
Around the middle of May, I was approached by my supervisor. He told me that the tattoo on my left forearm would be a problem. (The tattoo is of a heart with my wife’s name in it.) I never missed work, and I was never late.
Near the end of May, I was told that I would either have to bandage my arm, or wear a long sleeve winter uniform shirt. From April through June, all security had at least three meetings with supervisors from Milwaukee; nothing was ever mentioned about tattoos. Nothing is written in the handbook, and none of the guards have ever heard of any such policy, especially working at Harley-Davidson.
At the end of June, I was asked to turn in my short sleeve shirts. The regulation uniform sheet stated short sleeve shirts were part of the summer uniform. On July 6, I was called at home, to come to my supervisor’s office. He told me I would be suspended if I continue to wear short sleeve. I said I would agree to wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt. He told me that Harley-Davidson supplied the uniforms.
The supervisor was waiting for me in the parking lot on July 7. He told me that I couldn’t work in short sleeve. He asked me if I had any intention of covering my tattoo. I said no and he fired me, at that time.
I couldn’t believe Harley-Davidson would allow this through their management of their contractors, of wanting this image of anti-tattoo. I e-mailed a few of management at Harley-Davidson, and I was contacted by one individual in management, from Harley, and he asked why I wouldn’t cover my tattoo? I told him there are areas in the plant that get to 100 degrees in the summer, and the other reason, what’s right is right. Which I felt Harley-Davidson would understand, but I was wrong, for I never heard from him again.
Until my time of termination, nothing was ever done to other employees, male or female, concerning tattoos. Other employees have worked for years with exposed tattoos, prior to this incident.
I have documentation and e-mails from fellow employees substantiating the facts here.
Through all of this I have lost much respect for Harley-Davidson. I use to associate honor, integrity and the American way with the name of Harley-Davidson. I know Allied Barton is the technical employer, but Harley-Davidson plays the role of a big brother to them. What is right?
Thank you for your time