Do people with tattoos face discrimination?

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By: Darien Harris

Never Judge a Book By its Cover

Just because someone is covered in tattoos, should that affect their ability to land a job in corporate America?

Today, one in five Americans has a tattoo of some sort, but the bias against tattoos is still present in a lot of bosses’ minds, which may or may not affect whether or not someone gets hired.

Curtis Connell, artist at the Gallery of Fine Art and Tattoo Studio in Lansing Township, has strong feelings about stereotyping people with tattoos.

“Tattooing is art, just like works done by Picasso, Michelangelo and Da Vinci, and should get the same respect,” said Connell.

“If people would take the time to actually ask about someones tattoos; ask why they got them and what they mean in a respectful manner, I think they would learn a lot,” said Connell. “Obviously if it were up to me, I would hire anyone tattoos or not.  It should not be about what is on the outside, but rather whether or not they can get the job done.”

Corporate perspective 

Fiona Grant, director of human resources at Accenture, advises people on how to interview for potential jobs.

“Generally speaking, you will be wearing a suit anyway, so assuming that long sleeves will cover the tattooed areas, then clearly there is no issue,” said Grant. “If the tattoo is, say, on your hand just go ahead and be yourself and be as professional as you can in your other dress and look the part,”

Grant said that she has never heard of a case where someone was denied a job because of a tattoo. “As long as you’re not looking scraggly it would be like if a guy has a pony tail, but what matters is that you show that you’ve got professional presence…say if the tattoo has particular meaning it can be referenced if you think it will be an issue,” said Grant.

“I know of women and men that have got tattoos where they are visible and it’s fine because they have competence and work ethic in their field,” said Grant.

Nat Finkelstein of the Finkelstein Law Firm said that he has no rule when it comes to his employees having tattoos.

“I generally don’t like tattoos. I don’t really go looking for them, but I have hired people with tattoos,” said Finkelstein. “I think someone in a high position (with tattoos) would be frowned upon and it can have a negative impact…personally I do not judge but others may, and sometime there may be a time that this changes, but for now there may be a negative impact.”

Laura Bennett, who hires for the World Wildlife Federation, also has no rule, but says that some managers have their own preferences.

“I don’t see them very often in the corporate world.  More of the younger people are getting them, so we will see them more.  Appearance is key but it does not affect one’s ability to do one’s job,” said Bennett.
“Once you’ve got the job you no longer need to impress people so you can let yourself go a little more.”

Charlie Herbert, owner of Auto Body Dimensions body shop, works in a field where tattoos are more common.

“I prefer not to see them, but in this profession a lot of people have them,” said Herbert.“I more so would not want people working in the offices to have them as opposed to out in the shop.”

“I have not necessarily not hired someone because they have tattoos, but if two people were up for a job, and had equal credentials but one had tattoos and one did not, I would lean towards hiring the one without tattoos,” said Herbert.

True Art: A look into work done by Larry Albert, Tattoo Artist at The Gallery Art and Tattoo Studio in Lansing Township

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