Court Rejects Tattooist’s Tenuous Ties to Church

     (CN) – A tattoo-parlor owner cannot avoid paying for unemployment insurance by claiming that tattooing his part of his ministry, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled.
     Gregory Lowrey had challenged the Utah Department of Workforce Services Appeals Board’s decision that former employee Jacklyn Johnson’s wages were subject to unemployment insurance.
     The Happy Valley Tattoo owner argued that the business was part of his church, UBU Ministries, which includes tattooing among its religious tenets.
     An administrative law judge did not agree, and neither did the appeals board.
     Lowrey took his case to state court, claiming that Johnson was an employee of UBU and was fired for just cause. The Utah Court of Appeals said Lowrey failed to prove any of his claims, including the point that UBU qualified as an exempt religious organization.
     “Lowrey does not identify anything in the record besides his testimony as to UBU’s religious nature that would establish UBU as an exempt organization under the statutory definition,” Judge William Thorne Jr. wrote for the court.

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