Tattoo discrimination: Still legal, but falling out of fashion

Job discrimination, in many cases, is against the law. If you’re discriminated against because of your skin color, religion, sexuality, or disability, you can file a claim against the person who discriminated against you and potentially win in court. What about other kinds of discrimination, though? For instance, what if you’re discriminated against for having tattoos?

Tattoos are a growing trend in today’s society. One poll by Pew suggested that as many as 40 percent of millennials have at least one tattoo. Many of these people decide to get inked in places where you can cover the tattoo when necessary. For instance, someone in medical school may opt to get a tattoo on his or her chest, so he or she doesn’t have to worry about it showing to patients.

Some workplaces frown on tattoos, and a study from the University of Tampa stated that a majority of students who were asked felt that tattoos that were visible would hurt their job prospects. Is failing to hire someone because of tattoos really legal?

The fact is that many workplaces have strict rules for workplace attire and grooming. Tattoos fall under this category and must abide by the workplace’s rules. Workplace appearance policies may not infringe on a person’s human rights; this means that protections provided by federal law can’t be ignored. However, tattoos and personal expression items don’t fall under these protections.

Not all areas allow this kind of discrimination. In some local governments in Santa Cruz, for instance, you can’t discriminate against an employee for his or her personal appearance. As time moves on, more and more areas are relaxing their dress codes, so it may not be long before you can’t be discriminated against for your tattoos.

Source: ATTN:, “Can Tattoos Lead to Job Discrimination?,” Alex Mierjeski, Aug. 23, 2015

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