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Tattoo Discrimination in the Workplace is Still Common

As a society, we are becoming increasingly progressive and embrace those things that make each of us unique. Unfortunately, tattoo discrimination in the workplace is still a very real thing. This is especially true in industries with customer-facing employees. Despite leaders like Starbucks ending their ban on tattoos, there is a long way to go before being accepting of tattoos becomes the standard and tattoo discrimination in the workplace becomes a thing of the past. This holds true as much in Chicago as it does the rest of the country.

While tattoos and piercings may be examples of employee self-expression, they generally are not recognized as indications of religious or racial expression and, therefore, are not protected under federal or state discrimination laws. More on the legality of tattoos in the workplace can be found here.

Without any legal protection, what are your options to help you land a new job or keep the one you have and advance within the company?

We here at Bare Tattoo Removal regularly see clients in this predicament. Flight attendants, military recruits, and teachers are among the most common professions we see looking for tattoo removal as a result of career considerations.

So, what should you do to prevent losing out on a job because of your tattoo?

  1. Think Before You Ink

    Tattoo Discrimination in the WorkplaceContent, size, and location are all critical. Many people who get inked do it in their late teens. It’s often done on a whim without thinking through the permanence or cost of tattoo removal. Make sure it’s something you truly will want on your body forever. Sure, Gagnam Style was popular in 2013, but will it be in 2023? Of course, anything offensive or lewd should be avoided as well

    If you end up regretting your tattoo, chances are it will bother you more if it were bigger. We have never hears someone say, “I love this tattoo, I just wish it was bigger.” You can always add more tattoos or make your existing one larger. It’s much harder to reduce the size of a tattoo. Also, the cost of tattoo removal is partly based on size. Removing a small tattoo is much more affordable than removing a large one.

    Moreover, make sure your tattoo is in a location that you will be happy with and allows for flexibility when you’re an adult. Who knows what career you’ll have in the future – so you’re best off by choosing a location that allows for the most flexibility / can easily be hidden. This goes without saying but it’s best to avoid getting a tattoo from the mid chest up, below the calf, and below the elbow. For those who may want to join the military, check out this article on the Army’s tattoo policy. Each branches rules vary slightly and they tent to change over time so we recommend erring on the side of caution and being conservative in case policies become more strict. Teachers sometimes tell us how uncomfortable and limiting it can be to need to choose an outfit based on what will cover their tattoos. They often wish they could choose clothing that is the most comfortable or fashionable instead of clothes that cover the most area.

  2. Try to Change the Policy

    If you don’t like it, change it. Just because tattoo discrimination in the workplace is currently an issue doesn’t mean it always will be. Don’t wait for others to change either. The Starbucks policy on tattoos in the workplace was changed because an employee who didn’t like the policy started a petition against it. If you’re at a good company with good people, they’ll support you. Managers and HR departments look for ways to make their employees happier. Its entirely possible that these groups haven’t addressed tattoo policies in many years and don’t even realize the policy is impacting morale.

  3. Cover Up

    The simple answer to issues of tattoo discrimination in the workplace is to keep the ink covered. While this isn’t the best long-term solution and can be uncomfortable and limiting, it may be the best and least expensive option. Long sleeves and pants or turtlenecks in the winter are clothing options. Bandaids are another obvious solution. One you may not have thought about is airbrushing over the tattoo. Airbrushing provides a short term solution that won’t smudge or rub off on clothing the way makeup can.

  4. Get Laser Tattoo Removal

    Tattoo removal has been gaining in popularity as tattoo regret grows and as laser technology improves. The efficacy, discomfort, number of treatments, and cost have all come down for the years and it is now a logical choice for many. The cost of tattoo removal typically ranges anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. When considering the opportunities lost because of tattoos, it is often less expensive to remove a tattoo than it is to live with it and continue seeking jobs that don’t discriminate against tattoos. Some tattoo removal clinics, Bare Tattoo Removal included, will offer tattoo removal discounts for those looking to remove gang tattoos or tattoos preventing them from joining the armed services or law enforcement.