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Should Workers be Protected from Anti-Tattoo Discrimination?

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Summary: There are millions of people in the world today who have tattoos and have jobs. But, not all companies welcome employees with tattoos. We will explore the legality of the issue.

As tattoos become more and more popular, some companies have decided to create anti-ink policies for their employees. This means that you can have a tattoo, but you better be able to cover it up if you want to keep your job. If you fail to cover the tattoo, you could be disciplined or even be removed from your position. Is this legal? Should employees be protected from anti-tattoo discrimination? We will discuss these topics in this post.

Popularity of Tattoos in the United States

In the United States, tattoos are exploding in popularity, with one in five adults boasting ink and two in five thirty-somethings boasting ink, according to The Economist. Women also outnumber men when it comes to which gender has the most tattoos.

On the other side of the industry, the tattoo removal business has exploded over the past decade, jumping 440 percent. So, people are doing their best to have tattoos removed for multiple reasons; either for a job search, a school requirement, or because they want to join the military.

The military, specifically the Army, has gone back to its old standards for appearance. The standards govern the size and number of tattoos on the body of a soldier. They also ban tattoos from the neck, head and hands. The standards also ban tattoos that are sexually explicit, racist or vulgar.

Can I be fired for a tattoo?

Some companies, depending on their employee policies, could fire you for coming to work with a visible tattoo. Many teachers are not allowed to come to school with tattoos visible if they have them. Some are required to hide the tattoos, even if they are of a butterfly or a peace sign.

You might be wondering if this is legal. There are no laws out there in the employment landscape that ban anti-tattoo discrimination right now. This is a major reason why so many job seekers do their best to hide their tattoos when on job interviews and when at work. Some will not even disclose to their employer that they have a tattoo.

Where are Tattoos Acceptable?

In some careers, tattoos are accepted openly. For example, bartenders, athletes and prison workers tend to show-off their tattoos proudly while on the job. For some, it is an excellent talking point with customers (bartenders) and prisoners (prison guards).

Tattoos at work vary based on the workplace and the preferences of the employer, but employees need to use discretion today when going on job interviews and showing up to work.

Should Workers be Protected from Anti-Tattoo Discrimination? by
Authored by: Jim Vassallo