A MOTHER-OF-THREE has lost her job from a family-owned department store in Selby because of a tattoo.

Joanne Stronach, from Barlby, has a number of tattoos on her arms, including her daughter Lacy’s name with a heart, the word Love, and butterflies surrounding the phrase “Everything happens for a reason”.

The 39-year-old said staff at Wetherells store, which has been run in the town since 1898, told her there were no issues with her work or personality, but her tattoos would upset their older customers.

Joanne said: “They said I didn't fit in with the image of Wetherells and the older customers don't like tattoos. I was just shocked, they wouldn't even let me wear long sleeves because they said it was unhygienic, even though I wore them until they got me a uniform.

“I went there to do a job, which I did well. I told the boss of the kitchen, who said it wouldn't matter as long as they are not offensive.”

Rebecca Wetherell, wife of store director Mark Wetherell, interviewed Joanne for a position in the coffee lounge, and had also terminated her employment two weeks into a six-month trial period.

Mrs Wetherell said: “The main issue was her personal appearance.

“Being in the coffee lounge, with food and hygiene, there was no actual way of covering the tattoos up. It's nothing personal, she was a good worker. I would give her a good reference, I've no problems there at all.”

Joanne, whose children are aged four, 13 and 14, said: “I was told by one customer that she liked my butterfly. I know so many people who shop there as I've worked around town for 13 years. None of them seemed to have been offended.”

Mrs Wetherell acknowledged that tattoos were much more accepted by younger generations but she also had to take account of the fact that the store, in common with many traditional department stores, had an older clientèle with different values.

She said: “It had been mentioned by a couple to me. I don't want to lose the ones I've got. There is a generational change-over here, but it's going to take some time.”

Mark Wetherell said: “We have to look after our customers, they're our lifeline and we have to take their comments very seriously. Joanne was unsuitable for this position but we wish her well for the future.”