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Inked Up: Tattoos in the Workplace

Janice Hendrick, Writer

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12-Alex Simmons (Translation: I care for nothing/I don't care)

That’s gonna prevent you from getting a job, Tattoos are NOT professional, Aren’t you worried about becoming unemployed? With tattoos being a growing trend in America a common question asked is, how professional is it to have a tattoo in the workplace? Big name companies like Starbucks have lax policies when it comes to tattoos while other large companies like Disney make employees cover any visible tattoos. But what about companies more close to home?

William (Bill) Scrip, one of the owners of a  local business, IroquoiSystems Inc., a small name company in missile defense development, says, In our business, our customers tend to be conservative-minded people…I’m not going to hire a person who has facial tattoos, or tattoos that have curse words or obscene gestures.  If a person has a rose on their arm or a dolphin on their leg, it’s not going to bother me.”

But what about in Bob Jones? Senior Alex Simmons is a part-time employee at Kroger and when asked if his tattoo impedes his work, he responds, “No it does not, It’s also visible as my uniform is short sleeved.” In a survey of 40 students and adults, 66% said they had thought about getting a tattoo at one point in their life, yet 76% believe a tattoo has an influence on a job application. In the same poll, a student said, “Tattoos usually have a specific stereotype. Why do you think teachers and business workers hide their tattoos? I’m sure it is hard trying to make a permanent personal statement while also getting a decent job simply because of these judgments and stereotypes.” Savannah Martineau, a senior who has been employed for two years and has two tattoos and plans on getting a third. “I don’t really feel discriminated because of my tattoo, not many people say anything about it. I get comments from customers about it mostly, the only negative being whether or not I look old enough to even have a tattoo”

How about if someone lost their job over a tattoo that was there to honor someone. Often times people do this through a bible verse which can be construed as religious affiliation. “They don’t want someone to have their company to represent a specific religion.” One student said. Religious discrimination in the workplace is under federal protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Congressionally protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. However, employers still discriminate religion when it is inked on someone’s skin.

Even though one’s employment may be at stake because of a little black rose outline inked on one’s side, 42% of Americans have one or more tattoos. The general idea of tattoos is controversial and will continue to be up to debate when it comes to one’s career. One thing is for certain when it comes to law and regulation, discrimination is protected however personal opinion and rules are a freedom exercised by all business owners.

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Inked Up: Tattoos in the Workplace