Tattoo Workplace

Tattoo Discrimination In The Workplace

Tattoo Discrimination In The Workplace

Dave Champion Image Tattoo
(Image Source –

Tattoo discrimination in the workplace is more common then one might think. With the number of people who have tattoos increase so are the chances of being discriminated against. It is said that a tattooed person does not pass judgment on a person with no tattoos but it can be said the other way around – for the most part. Who agrees with me? Dave Champion does; in fact he is bringing the same passion on tattoo discrimination in the workplace as he does to fight for our liberty.

Tattooed Need Not Apply

Almost every generation or ethnic group is faced with some type of discrimination. Just think back to the 60’s and the hippie movement, when signs were posted at businesses stating “No Long Hair People Need Apply”. As Dave Champion stated in his blog article titled, “The Ugly Truth About Tattoo Discrimination In The Workplace” we first need to understand what discrimination is:

Discriminate: (verb, used without object) – to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit.1

Basically it boils down to hiring managers, HR departments and / or recruiters who have a misconception that appearance is directly related to one’s ability to do a specific job. As Dave Champion said in his article:

“The critical factor here being there is zero evidence that the “group” is bad or undesirable, or that the person being lumped into the group is “bad” or “undesirable”. The person’s discriminatory decision is merely the result of baseless prejudice and/or mindless hate.”1

While there are many companies that willfully hire people with tattoos like, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, FedEx and a few others. Also there are a number of small businesses like ad / marketing firms that especially hire folks with body art as it shows their creative passion.

Nick Wooster Image Tattoo
(Image Source

As Dave Champion points out there are two “flavors” when it comes down to discrimination – legal and cultural.

Let’s looks at the legal aspect first.

“The legal answer is that the act of discriminating against those with tattoos does not meet the legal definition of “discrimination”. In other words, it is discrimination in the moral sense, but (at this point in time) not discrimination in the legal sense.”1

Most people think that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects against discrimination covers individuals with tattoo but unfortunately it does not. As Dave Champion explains:

“The first object of the anti-discrimination laws was race. Several years’ later “gender” was added. Until gender was added, discriminating against women in the workplace was not legally cognizable “discrimination”. Once the legislature added, “gender” to the definition, discriminating against women became a violation of law. Several years later “religion” was added; then “national origin”. After that, came “age”, making it a violation of law to refuse to hire a qualified applicant simply because he was older than a firm might prefer. As you can see, defining what legally constitutes discrimination has been an evolutionary process.”1


Now let’s talk about cultural aspects. This can vary from ethical to religious reasons. Since schools have similar policies to workplaces and I live in NC let’s look at Ariana Iacono of Clayton, NC. The Huffington Post ran an article in May, 2011 titled, “Church Of Body Modification Member: Nose Ring Is About Faith”2 which talks about a 14 year old girl named Ariana and her nice piercing. Tattoos and piercings face the same discrimination so we figured this fit perfectly in our article.

Ariana Iacono says she just wants to be a normal teenager at Clayton High School, about 15 miles southeast of Raleigh. She has been suspended since last week because her nose ring violates the Johnston County school system’s dress code.

Ariana Iacono Image
(Image Source

Ariana and her Mom belong to the Church of Body Modification, which practices a belief of spiritualization.

“Our spirituality comes from what we choose to do ourselves. Through body modification, we can change how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about the world.”2

The Johnston school districts own dress policy allows nose piercings for religious reasons and went on to say they would “OK” the piercing if Ariana was either Hindu or Muslim. Yeah, you read that correctly. It appears the school district has taken on the role of defining religion. Which by the way got the NC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to step in. So as you can see discrimination is a big concern in the tattoo community.

In case anyone is wondering what happened with Ariana when she got to attend school and the Johnston Dress Code Policy was updated:

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school district on Iacono’s behalf, and a federal judge ordered that she be allowed to attend school wearing her nose stud. The district settled the lawsuit in June, allowing Iacono to keep her stud and implementing accommodations for students with similar religious beliefs.3

Will more companies adopt dress code policies to either allow or disallow visible tattoos in the workplace, only time will tell. With heavy hitters such as Dave Champion in our corner pushing for common sense and equality in the workplace, who knows what will happen. One thing is for sure; tattoos are no less distracting than Hawaiian Shirt Fridays.

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