Is Refusing to Hire Someone with a Visible Tattoo Discrimination?

by Helen Whelan

The same could be asked about body piercing.

Would You Hire Someone with a Visible Tattoo?

I remember being on a jury where the defense attorney had a pierced ball earring on her lip. All I could do was watch that little bead bob up and down as she spoke. Hard as I tried to concentrate on her argument, I was completely distracted. Call me a visual person.

I don’t think I was alone. She lost and I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so important for her to wear that if there was the slightest possibility it would prevent her from winning the case for her client. Was she clueless or just determined to exert her personal freedom? Was her boss too lenient in allowing this? And, what about her client?

Where do we draw the line ________ between personal freedom in the workplace and professionalism?

This question was posed on LinkedIn:

Would you hire someone with a visable tattoo for an office environment?”

Before you read on, how would you answer this? What would you do as a hiring manager?

Sal Dzonlagic • “to me this sort of question is the same as… would you hire a person with a visible disability… get with the program… overlooking someone on the grounds of their appearance is actually discrimination… whether a person has visible tattoos or visible piercings does not hinder their ability to do the job, you cannot force a person with visible tattoos on their forearms cover their arms up if say long sleeve shirts are not mandatory uniforms just as if you were to say that a woman cannot wear a hijjab as it is not part of the company culture. Companies today claim to be “diverse” and yet want everyone to look the same. How one professional dresses in the “office” is completely different to how that same person dresses when meeting with clients.

But then how many people actually turn up to an interview with their tattoos and piercings showing anyway?”

Cindy Johnson • “Sal – you talk about companies accepting diversity then make the comment that you should know to cover up your tattoos and take out your piercings before an interview. You just perfectly illustrated the difference between what people think an ideal company setting is and what reality is. Professionalism is a choice. We all know what is expected, you can be as unhappy as you like about it, but either play the game or work elsewhere. If you want to do/say/wear/look like/act like whatever you want, then find a company that fits with your culture. For the vast majority of everyone else, you need to toe the line and follow company standards. If you take a close look at companies that let you go surfing over lunch and wear shorts all the time, you’ll see that the sales team is still wearing a suit and tie.

Some of these discussions have tried to liken a tattoo to a disability or race discrimination. Getting a tattoo is a choice, the rest are not. If you choose to get a tattoo that you can’t cover up, that’s on you. Accept the consequences of your choice.”

So, what’s your opinion?


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