Tattoos becoming more acceptable in the work place

Here is a recent editorial I wrote for my college newspaper where I am the editor. I thought it would be great to post here.

Tattoos are not just for sailors and criminals anymore; we are seeing them everywhere these days. People of all ages can be seen getting tattoos, from the elderly to the younger generations who are expected to have them.

Tattoos have become more than just a gang sign or to show that someone served in the military. For most people it is a work of art they can carry with them forever, a way to forever capture a memory of something or someone important to them. Or a person could even have tattoos representing their culture. But there is still the question of tattoos being acceptable in the work place.

Some companies still do not approve of tattoos, see them as unprofessional, and assume that whoever has one is unprofessional, which of course is far from the truth. Chances are, if a company does not want its employees to have tattoos, they have a set tattoo policy. If an interviewer sees a potential employee with a visual tattoo, they could allow that to be a deciding factor in whether or not they offer that person a job.

A potential argument to this would be that people should be allowed self-expression, even in the workplace. But companies can limit personal expression as long as they do not limit ones civil liberties. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers are allowed to impose appearance policies as long as they do not discriminate against a person’s race, color, religion, age, national origin, or gender.

Other companies are able to look past a persons tattoo and look more at what that person can do for them and the rest of the company. According to Diane Ruksnaitis, Associate Vice President of Human Resources, at Mount Wachusett Community College(my college) there is no policy regarding tattoos for faculty or staff members here.

Some employers have gone as far as allowing “tasteful” tattoos to be visible in the workplace but complications can easily arise with what is the line of tasteful and what is not. Most companies with tattoo policies just prohibit visible tattoos so there is no issue with what is and what is not acceptable.

Employers need to realize that while a person’s tattoo may give hints to their interests and beliefs it does not exactly pinpoint who they are as a worker. It would be very surprising to see a person have their work tendencies tattooed on their body.

In a study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2006, 24% of Americans ages 18 to 50 years old reported having at least one tattoo. That is quite a large amount of people compared to what it may have been even ten or twenty years ago.

Since the percentage of individuals with tattoos is not going to decrease but probably only increase, the workforce is going to have to continue to become more tolerant of employees with tattoos as time goes on. If not they could easily lose the true, best person for the job.

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