Think before you Tat – Can Body Art Affect your Employment Opportunities

By at 22 January, 2010, 11:44 am

In today's challenging legal employment climate, potential employees (whether lawyers or staff), need to carefully think about every thing that can potentially affect their job prospects. This includes body piercings and tattoos which seem to be the current craze. Like diamonds, tattoos are forever without expensive and painful removal. But can tattoos and piercings actually affect your job chances? It appears that there is now information to support this belief.

In many aspects, law firms are conservative when it comes to appearances and that tattoo that seemed like such a good idea on Spring Break could be keeping you from getting a job. While many attorneys and staff may sport a tattoo or other body art, it is usually not visible and is kept covered. However, more and more, you've probably seen folks that are using their bodies as a canvass to express themselves with tattoos and piercings visible on all exposed skin. While acceptable in many industries, such displays may lead to potential employment issues especially if that industry is law.

The Resumark blog recently carried a post How Tattoos and Body Piercing Affect Your Career  by Tatiana Varenik discussing results of a survey on this topic. According to this blog post:

According to survey, 85% of survey respondents believe that tattoos and body piercing impede ones chances of finding a job.

You may believe that any company that looks at the existence of body art in the hiring process is wrong,  but the cold hard facts are that there are many folks who find it unattractive and stereotype based on it. While employees have many rights, having the right to openly display tattoos or piercings isn't one of them as the post so clearly points out.

Having served in the military for a number of years, it was not uncommon to see tattoos on arms and chests, but today's body art goes far beyond those areas. In fact, many branches of the US Military have enacted regulations that prohibit body art that is visible below a rolled cuff on the battledress or short sleeved duty uniforms as the prevalence of tattoos surged on entire arms and hands. This 2008 post  – Employment Decisions based on tattoos are not discriminatory – from the Ohio Employer's Law Blog addresses the issue of body art and hiring for law firms directly, but also points out that any standard for appearance must be equally enforced .

For this attorney, the biggest issue with body art is that over time it fades and is subject to the aging of the human body as things stretch, drop and shrink. You need to carefully think before you act and ask yourself, is this act of personal expression more important to me than landing a good job?

Categories : Hiring | Practice Management | Public Relations | Staffing | Work Life Balance | Workplace Issues

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Bob W December 12, 2010

I am one of those guys that would never even think of hiring anyone with exposed tattoos or body parts!I I think that they make people uglier than anything possible in this world. To all of my valued customers thought the same way I do. Years ago a tattood lady wasconsidered not only a freak…but was the tattood lady in the Barnum & Baily Circus.
On thing that noticed on ANY TV prisoner show, 100 % of all convicts were covered with these UGLY TATTOOS!!!!
They seem to be te ROLE MODELS for everyone these days! Even the sports hero's are loaded with them. All this and for some reason people of today do not seem to care whether they get good jobs or not. They won't even stop smoking so that they will live longer and healthier lives. I used to smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day. I thank GOD that I had the brains to quit cold turkey. If I could do it , than anyone can!!!! I read a few years ago that a retiree from the Army wanted to join the COAST GUARD, but he had a small tattoo on his neck that was visible. They would not let him unless he had that tattoo removed. He did, but it cost him $10,000 to remove it. I think that most people today  think that all these stories wont happen to THEM  ! ! ! !

Pam Neighbors April 18, 2011

I can back-up the last writer whole heartedly! I have been performing a new non-laser tattoo process, and my clients are primarily professional people seeking either new jobs or promotions, and military personell who have run up against regulations regarding tattoos and promotions, or those trying to get into the Marines, Coast Guard, or Air Force but can't until they remove their visible tattoos. Most are either unable to afford laser removal, or they are worried about the intense pain it causes. I would definately say that visible tattoos are a handicap in most job arenas and in the military.
Pam Neighbors
Everett, WA

George July 24, 2011

Tattoos do affect monetary rewards as far as business is concerned. Companies have to make a profit . That is their right. I would not hire anyone with visible tattoos for my Insurance agency. Unfortunately I can not tell if they have any under their clothes. Even beyond actual job hiring.  I would bet that if there were a study done analyzing tips; It would show that people that had no tattoos make more tips than those that have them. Heck , Speaking for myself; I tip less to tatted wait staff , bartenders or whomever than those that have clean bodies. That is my right. Looking at those hideous things , affects my enjoyment of my dinner or drink or whatever.   

John D. October 16, 2012

This is what I call discrimination. You generalise people who have art on their bodies as criminals and mischiefs? That is just outrageously stupid. I personally know tattooed people who are polite, well educated with a University degree and never dabbled into trouble. 
Society cannot procede if we keep on judging people before we know them. As far as I know there are criminals and serial killers who dont have a single tattoo and did unspeakable horrors, so why generalise? You would not know if a stranger or a doctor who could save your life have tattoos on him… It doesnt make sense. People like you need to learn that generalising is what makes hatred nowadays.

Davy Sock It July 10, 2013

It is not discrimination. It is appearance, like showing for an IV with jeans and smelling or whatever. You chose to make your appearance permanent. I do find it ironic and comical that tattoo people have this attitude like they can do whatever they want to flaunt their individuality and fall over themselves trying to overshadow the other insecure friend , with those hideous things all over their body. Your rights end where mine begin to make as much profits as possible. You can not have it both ways. Yes, you have your individual rights and I do as well. My business and my rules. Even government jobs all over the nation have rules against visible tattoos. Make sure yoiu wear your long sleeve shirt, turtleneck and gloves , even in the hottest days of the year… lmao September 22, 2013

WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for discrimination

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