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Essay Sample: Tattoos Should Be Allowed in the Workplace

5 pages
1229 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Once an individual receives education, there are various occupations that one may choose from in todays world. Whether an individual has the ambitions of being a teacher, doctor, or a business person, it is imperative that such individuals use their education to gain access to that job. Since there are many individuals searching for the same job, getting a job is no easy task for many persons. Many employers will interview individuals and the ones with the stand-out applications often get the job. When it comes to making decisions as to whether one should be hired or not, the issue of tattoos may ruin hopes of individuals with tattoos. The issue as to whether tattoos should be allowed in the workplace is a contentious issue. This I because it is easy for individuals to make a case depicting the negative impacts of discrimination against tattoos in the workplace. In most instances, tattoos often affect the productivity, loyalty, staffing, and finding qualified individuals in jobs. Sometimes, tattoos often ruin other peoples chances of getting hired since some individuals view tattoos as being unprofessional. Even though tattoos are permanent, and are not in every persons taste, I do not think that it should affect the ability of persons to perform certain tasks in the workplace.

In western countries in the past, tattoos were uncommon except for some circus sideshows, sailors, and prostitutes. This is because there were various misconceptions about tattoos such as ladies with tattoos were prostitutes. Currently, the stigma surrounding tattoos in the workplace is almost gone. Individuals in the workplace can accept that the individuals with tattoos have their own freedom to express themselves. Despite the growth in popularity of tattoos, it is unfortunate that discrimination against tattoos is still existent in the workplace. This may be as a result of the association of body modifications for instance tattoos being associated with gangs, tribes, the military or prison. It is however imperative to comprehend that the previous stereotypes regarding tattoos across every socioeconomic status have changed. One should note that when one considers the topic of tattoos in the workplace, the issue to be considered by prospective employees is the type of job that they want and the environment that they want to work in. this is because even though the issue of individuals getting tattoos is becoming part of the social norm in culture, there are employers who have still not yet adapted to tattoos (Lau, 66).

Currently, there are no laws that protect the persons with tattoos from facing discrimination in the workplace or from losing their jobs. The area concerning tattoos is a grey area. This is because there are laws that stipulate as to where individuals with tattoos can display visible ink. In the ruling made by the 6th District Circuit Court of Appeals, Robert v. Ward, it is up to the employers to enforce dress code strategies that comprise tattoos as long as these guidelines are handled in an equitable fashion. One should comprehend that the grey area often exists as a result of the sort of tattoos that the employers may deem to be offensive. Sometimes, the issue regarding discrimination against tattoos is because some tattoos incorporate nudity or profanity in their design. In some instances, the tattoos may include certain types of horror-themed instances that are incorporated into the design.

Although many businesses claim that they may lose customers if they employ individuals with tattoos, the claim may be baseless. In fact, by discriminating against tattoos in the workplace, employers may be missing out. In the United States alone, over 40% of individuals (adults) have tattoos. If such individuals are discriminated from the workforce, then half of the population is then discriminated against, and the process is much riskier as new potential clients in the workplace are alienated. Sometimes there is a notion that individuals with tattoos are associated with delinquency, rebellion, and thugs life. One should note that while there are thugs in the society who shave tattoos, there are also shred individuals in the society such as bank CEOs, pastors and business owners who have tattoos (Williams et al., 373).

Double standards are another reason as to why tattoos should be allowed in the workplace. Body modifications such as plastic surgery, nail extensions, Botox, plastic surgery, or breast implants are performed on individuals in the workplace. Such modifications do not raise the contentious issue raised by tattoos. While every individual like such body modifications is similar to tattoos, it is difficult to find employers requesting their employees to cover up such modifications. Employers often accept individuals with birthmarks, race, disabilities and sexual orientation but find the issue of individuals with tattoos is a contentious issue. Since tattoos are a matter of choice by some individuals, there is need to accept such individuals in the workplace (Stljobwatch, 45).

Tattoos should be allowed in the workplace since the unequal allocation of employment policy in many organizations may be a source of potential liability for the employers. If the management of any organization discriminates against individuals with tattoos especially when exhibiting inequality in reinforcing policies, that may make tattoo discrimination illegal. Since body art can result in prejudices, stigmatization and stereotyping in the workplace, it is imperative to manage the perceptions of individuals no to create such climates of prejudice. Moreover, if the perception regarding tattoos is changed, then the issue of tattoos would not be contentious in the workplace.

Although being strict regarding policies governing the issue of tattoos in the workplace may seem rough, it is vital that individuals follow company guidelines. Moreover, persons must take the responsibility of ensuring that they represent the public face of the organization. Even if one has tattoos, there is need to maintain the employers guidelines to respect the image of the company.

It is evident that tattoos have been present since ancient times and continued to exist. It is up to the employers to make a decision as to whether a particular individual is suitable or not suitable for a particular job. However, it is extreme if an employer chooses to hire or fire if an individual has tattoos or does not have. It is up to the employers to invest or find ways to address the wants of employees who may want to proudly display their tattoos while preserving the organizations core values and working productively. Moreover, organizations may save money on unnecessary lawsuits, preserve the rights of all people, promote equal employment opportunities. From a corporate standpoint, it is vital that individuals should be delighted to have the freedom to decorate and dress as they wish. In todays world, tattoos may not be viewed as being professional, but they are no longer seen as being unprofessional.


Works cited

Williams, D. J., et al. "You Need to Cover Your Tattoos!: Reconsidering Standards of Professional Appearance in Social Work." Social Work, vol. 59, no. 4, Oct. 2014, p. 373. EBSCOhost,

Stljobwatch. "St. Louis Post-Dispatch Stljobwatch Column: Jobwatch: Tattoos Abound in the Workplace." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), 13 Aug. 2010. EBSCOhost,

Lau, Shari. "The Body Art Politic." HR Magazine, vol. 61, no. 4, May 2016, p. 18. EBSCOhost,


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