TENNESSEE: Nashville’s sprawling downtown Music City Center will no longer bar employees from showing off small tattoos and will halt pre-employment marijuana testing.
Convention center officials voted to change the long-standing policies on Wednesday afternoon. The shifts align with what most downtown hotels have already begun doing.
I think it’s really a change of the times, said Music City Center CEO, Charles Starks. Most people would literally look at it as: ‘Y’all weren’t doing that already? Really?’
Now employees can show their tattoos within limits members of the marketing and operations committee for the Convention Center Authority of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County agreed.
Body art on the face and head remain banned, but tattoos smaller than a quarter can be seen on the neck and throat.
Also, the art can’t depict obscene or graphic acts, display nudity, profane language, discrimination, or intolerance against any race, religion, political affiliation, gender, national origin, legally protected classes, or infer affiliation with a group(s) advocating such beliefs.
All about recruiting and retaining talent
The committee made the changes after noting that 26 otherwise qualified job applicants were turned away because of the long-standing policies banning tattoos and pre-employment marijuana use.
It’s all about recruiting and retaining talent, Starks said. Hotels have only started doing this in the last two years. But for the honky-tonks, it’s been that way for a while.
Before coronavirus brought large-scale temporary business closures, most downtown hotels and restaurants couldn’t find enough qualified workers to keep the formerly thriving tourism industry fully staffed.
Now, the businesses have a different problem with too few customers. Convention center officials are hopeful business will start to return to pre-coronavirus levels after Phase 4 of the county’s reopening plan is reached.
But Starks said changes to rules about tattoos and marijuana use have been in the works for a while.
Change follows moves by hotel industry
A dozen hotels surveyed do not include marijuana testing in pre-employment drug screens, including JW Marriott, Renaissance, and Omni.
The Westin and Lowes Vanderbilt hotels allow visible tattoos as long as they’re not on an employee’s hands, neck or face.
Omni Hotel requires staff to get approval from the executive committee to show tattoos as long as they’re not on the face, head, neck or throat.
Music City Center and hotels will continue to test employees for marijuana use if they seem intoxicated at work, and when accidents occur.
If somebody gets hurt on the job, we’re going to test for marijuana, Starks said. But you can go to meetings all over town and see someone in an influential position with tattoos on their ankle or leg. It’s pretty universally accepted.