Discrimination against tattoos in the workplace

Written by russell huebsch
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Discrimination against tattoos in the workplace
Employers have a legitimate interest in banning visible tattoos. (tattoo image by no-Face from Fotolia.com)

In 2010, 10 per cent of all Americans had at least one tattoo, and 33 per cent of those aged 25 to 30 are tattooed, according to the Working World website. Know your company's policy on tattoos; discrimination can occur.

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Courts tend to side with employers who have policies against visible tattoos on employees, according to the Business and Legal Resources website. Some companies distinguish between employees who deal with the public and those who do not. Regardless, a policy against tattoos becomes gender discrimination when the business has different standards for men and women.


Businesses should take into account the amount of contact an employee has with the public and his value to the company. It may prove beneficial to tolerate a visible tattoo on a valued, hard-to-replace employee who works only internally within the company.


Religious tattoos present the most complicated situation, according to the AllBusiness.com website. Asking an employee to cover up a religious tattoo, especially when the religion requires it to be visible, could be construed as religious discrimination. Employers should consider allowing a religious exception to any no-visible-tattoo policy.

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