Tattoos in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know


Tattoos lost their stigma some time ago, and more Americans have ink now than ever. Some recent studies have shown that as many as one in four Americans have at least one tattoo. Regardless, that doesn’t make them entirely acceptable—especially at work. Tattoos can have negative connotations for workers because they are still seen as subversive and anti-establishment by some people. If you have tattoos and are heading into work, here’s what you need to know.

Discrimination Laws Don’t Cover Ink

The majority of workplaces have discrimination laws in place as a way for workers to report unfair treatment, harassment, and even unfair termination. Unfortunately, tattoos, which do fall under the physical appearance category, typically aren’t protected.

There is, however, a loophole. Tattoos themselves aren’t protected, but if your ink is a clear representation of or link to your ethnic identity, it might fall under racial discrimination. If you are discriminated against because of your tattoo, and it’s a link to your ethnicity, you can report it, and you might be protected. Other than that, there is no legal framework to protect from losing out on or losing a job because of tattoos.

You Can Get Fired for Having One

The majority of tattoos don’t fall into anti-discriminatory measures, and the area of firing workers for having unwanted tattoos is still quite grey. Many employers have been known to take different paths if they discover unwanted ink on potential or current employees.

In some cases, if your employer finds out you have ink they don’t like, there’s a chance that they are more likely to find a justifiable reason to terminate you. Other employers might decide not to hire you in the first place if they see your tattoo during the hiring process.

While tattoos have become more acceptable, it’s still in your best interest to be aware that they can compromise your place in specific industries. Keep in mind that a lot depends on the location of your ink, and make sure to keep it covered if you think it’s a problem.

Working with Tattoos

It’s important to remember that there are ways to navigate your workplace with tattoos. Some industries, especially those that are more cool and contemporary, are far more accepting of ink than your traditional office or banking job. Also, a long line of strong work ethic can be enough to ease away the doubts your employer might have over your tattoos. It is possible to enjoy a fulfilling, successful career while being tattooed.

If You’re Considering Tattoos

If you are thinking about getting a tattoo now, or in the future, remember that careers aren’t as straight and narrow as before. Keep in mind that where you start your career isn’t likely to be where you end up, and your tattoos might influence that down the road. Tattoos are a form of expression, and everyone has the right; however, it’s highly essential that you take into account the impact that they can have. Consider the industry you work in, where you want to end up when you’re older and think of the location of your ink before permanently tattooing it on your skin.

Tattoos are art and an excellent way to express yourself. Don’t let this article scare you, many employers are going to be okay with tattoos, and even prefer that you not be worried about showcasing them because they want you to be yourself. If you are unsure of your company’s policy on tattoos, take the time to ask before adding to your collection or getting a new one. If you’re in an interview, try covering it up and asking the interviewer how the company feels about tattoos. Asking questions can make you feel much better, and teach you about your workplace’s tattoo tolerance.


Tattoos in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know

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