Alabama firefighter fired after tattooing spine bones, flowers and hands
An Alabama firefighter was fired because of a tattoo on the back of her head and neck that showed spinal bones, flowers and hands mimicking “The Creation of Adam.”
Kay’Ana Adams had worked at the Maryvale mobile fire station for nine months until someone complained about a new tattoo she got in June, reports WKRG 5.
Although Adams said she knew the department had a policy against tattoos on the face or neck, she said other firefighters had more conspicuous ink than hers and noted that her design would go slightly obscured in uniform.
“The next thing I knew, I was being investigated and questioned about it, and then they decided I broke policy,” Adams said.
After a back-and-forth with the city, which included a complaint about her hair — which has become a heated topic regarding discrimination against black people — Adams, a black woman, was eventually fired.
In June 2022, mobile firefighter Kay’Ana Adams got a tattoo of spinal bones, flowers and hands mimicking “The Creation of Adam” on the back of her head and neck.
The rookie firefighter said she was questioned about the tattoo, which she claimed was more harmless than some of the ink that other colleagues had. Adams was eventually fired on November 10, but she claims she was fired for speaking out against the department
She claims she wasn’t fired because of the tattoo, but because she spoke out against the harassment and sexism she experienced as a trainee and new employee.
She had filed two complaints about cases in which male firefighters had allegedly made inappropriate remarks about “feminism and women’s rights”.
“Statements regarding, you know, ‘I don’t want to work with women,'” Adams told WKRG.
The former firefighter also noted that she once spoke up at her training academy when a group of people in her class were discussing how to tie a sling.
When it came to her tattoo, Adams said Mobile officials gave her the opportunity to let her hair grow out to ensure the tattoo was covered.
She did just that – but a complaint was filed weeks later, saying her grown out hair was inconsistent with city policy.
“We have different hair textures,” Adams said, referring to her race. “So you have no idea how long it will take for my hair to grow out.”
By the fall, the department updated its guidelines to now ban head tattoos above the neckline.
Adams said a captain at her station took a picture of the back of her head on November 10 with the tattoo no longer visible, but she was fired that same day.
She was fired just days before the expected response to the complaint about her hair.
“Definitely blindfolded, I never thought it would come to this, especially considering I was following the rules,” Adams told WKRG. “I’m not exactly trying to be disobedient out here and I’m not breaking any laws or anything, it’s just a tattoo.
“What lies behind me should not interfere with the work that lies ahead.”
During practice, Adams said she found several people discussing how to tie a sling. Then, as a novice, she filed two complaints against male firefighters for allegedly making sexist remarks
Adams claimed she followed city orders to let her hair grow out to hide the tattoo
But the city then updated its rules to ban all tattoos above the neckline
The city confirmed in a statement that Adams was terminated “for failing to meet Mobile Fire-Rescue Department (MFRD) standards.”
A city spokesman told WKRG that at least one firefighter has a neck tattoo, but he’s allowed to cover the ink until it’s removed.
The MFRD did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Adams noted that the two fire captains she sought help from, Jason Craig and Rodrick Shoots, also faced disciplinary action for helping her.
All three are members of the Black Progressive Firefighters Association.
City officials said Shoots was fired for “attempting to obstruct a valid order from a supervisor, ignoring orders, and using disrespectful and defiant language towards a supervisor.”
Craig was suspended for 30 days for “insubordination, failure to follow directions from a manager and failure to investigate, document and report a violation of MFRD policy.”
Both Shoots and Craig have filed appeals, which are scheduled for late January.
Adams has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the fire department.
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