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Workplace discrimination against tattoos

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Tattoos and piercings are now generally much more accepted than they were several years ago and many people have them. However, that doesn’t mean you will find it easy to get a job if you have a face full of body art. Although it will vary from job to job and depend on the individual organisation and directors, many employers do still discriminate against tattoos and piercings and it can be difficult to do anything about this.

Discrimination

If you’re refused a job or promotion because of your gender, ethnicity, race or religion, then you could have a case for discrimination. However, an employer can turn you down for your tattoos and piercings because they can argue that it is against their dress code and contract of employment – just as you wouldn’t turn up to work in a dressing gown, they can argue that tattoos and piercings don’t give the right image for their company.

Employer’s Rights

workplace discrimination against tattoosCompanies have a right to establish a dress code for their organisation and can require that body piercings are removed and that tattoos are covered up at work. However they also have to consider the job role and person specification when drafting their dress policy. Employers who have a blanket ban against tattoos, or who discriminate against someone who is not in direct contact with the public and has a small tattoo on their arm for example, might be on shakier ground. Companies should focus on the job and the performance at work rather than outdated corporate standards.

Type of job

Your chosen field also has a bearing as to whether tattoos and piercings might be acceptable. Particularly jobs which are not front-facing with members of the public may be more open-minded about their dress code policies.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re planning a career in the corporate world or in customer facing roles, you may want to think carefully before getting any noticable piercings or that full sleeve you’ve always wanted, as at present, there are no firm discrimination laws against these to protect you. Careers in the more creative fields may be more accepting of your individuality, but always bear in mind any future employment before taking the plunge!

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