Workplace discrimination against tattoos unreasonable

Special to the Star | Journalism Sophomore

Having visible tattoos should not reduce one’s chances of getting a professional job.

Tattoos have always been a taboo in the professional world. If one wishes to work in an office setting, he or she must meet the clean-cut image of the business world. That means short hair, nice clothes and no visible tattoos. However, it seems trivial that a simple mass of ink on a person’s skin can be the difference between working at a big law firm and or a burger joint.  

Hiring decisions should be based on skills and merit, not appearance. The person who gets the job should be the person who deserves the job, not the person who simply looks the part.

I personally have to face this reality every time I walk into a job interview. I have to wear a long-sleeved shirt to hide my half-sleeve, and I have to hold my hands in the hope that the tattoo on my hand will go unnoticed. Every job interview could potentially be for nothing—someone else could always receive the job just because he or she fits the look more than I do.

According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center, about 23 percent of Americans today have a tattoo. Employers cannot be biased against such a large contingent of the American population. Especially seeing as young people are even more likely to have tattoos, it is unreasonable for employers to discriminate against intelligent individuals simply because they have tattoos.

Unfortunately, 61 percent of human-resource managers still stated that having a tattoo would hurt job applicants’ chances, according to a 2012 survey by the Center of Professional Excellence. No federal law currently exists to prohibit this discrimination, so suing is a waste of time.

Of course, there are certain circumstances where tattoos can and should hurt your chances of getting a job. No job is going to hire the guy with curse words on his knuckles, a teardrop under his eye or a giant swastika on his forehead. Although employers should not discriminate against everyone with ink, it is unreasonable to suggest that they should hire those with offensive tattoos.

There is some hope for those with tattoos. Many companies are seeking to appeal to a younger crowd. Tattoos could be seen as a benefit to a company trying to exude a young, hip atmosphere.

In an increasingly diverse world, companies must be more tolerant of tattoos if they want to stay relevant. If recent college grads know their chances of being hired could be lowered because of their tattoos, they are going to apply somewhere else. If this cycle persists, then companies will become underemployed and no longer in touch with the ever-evolving market, doomed to be replaced by more forward-thinking businesses.

Getting tattoos is a life decision that is not to be taken lightly. That being said, it should not be a life decision that prevents students from getting jobs they are qualified for. Sure, some people will always judge and will never enjoy dealing with those who have tattoos. But as for myself, my body is a canvas that will keep getting covered with art until it becomes a masterpiece.

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