Tattoos and body piercings have become more popular over the past few decades. According to the Harris Poll, about 29 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. Tattoos are even more prevalent among young people. A Pew Research study found that people ages 18 to 29 have a 40 percent chance of having a tattoo. However, even though tattoos are more common now than they ever have been, they still can negatively affect your chances of getting hired. When employers don’t hire someone because of their body art, they are practicing a form of discrimination.
There are negative stereotypes surrounding any form of body art. In the United States, tattoos are often seen as rebellious, irresponsible and unprofessional. There are various types of workplace policies that discriminate against people with tattoos. Employers may not hire someone just because of their tattoos, or make them cover them with long-sleeve shirts or bandages. Employees in the U.S. have been fired because they didn’t cover their tattoos, or been forced to resign because customers file complaints about them. According to DLA Piper, 60 percent of employers reported that visible tattoos would have a negative impact on someone getting hired.
Laws forbidding discrimination based on personal appearance exist in only a few local governments. The lawsuits that rise because of workplaces prohibiting tattoos are common, and the employers usually win based on the defense that they are preserving their conservative image.
Employers should also consider that discrimination against tattoos would directly affect ethnic minority groups because they are more likely to have body ink. Reports show that 38 percent of Hispanics have tattoos and 28 percent of African Americans do, while only 22 percent of Caucasian people do.
If a person’s tattoos are offensive, then it’s understandable why it would affect their ability to get a job. Tattoos that are merely a form of self-expression, however, shouldn’t keep someone from getting hired. When employers stop reinforcing social stigmas on people with tattoos, then maybe the rest of society will stop as well. Hopefully, statements like, “You’re going to regret that when you’re older,” and “Tattoos are unprofessional,” will become a thing of the past.
Tattoos are a form of self-expression that shouldn’t serve as a reason to discriminate against someone. If you are someone who views tattoos as unprofessional, just keep in mind that tattoos aren’t a complete reflection of someone’s character.