Tattoos, though popular, not appropriate for jobs

In the recent decade, tattoos have become the hottest fashion trend, especially during the summer months.

People want to show off their body art. According to an article on, a study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports more than a third of 18- to 25-year-olds have a tattoo.

But not everyone considers tattoos fashionable. People are often judged according to their tattoos in the workplace, such as in the movie “Crash” when Sandra Bullock’s character discriminates against a locksmith because of his numerous tattoos.

This scene makes me wonder about the real challenges of getting a good job with noticeable tattoos. It seems like getting a job would be difficult if you have an old-fashioned boss. Because tattoos have become a popular norm, more people have learned to accept them.

Although managers have loosened their views on tattoos in order to attract today’s youth, they have increased dress-code rules to require tattoos to be covered. I value recent employers’ decisions to compromise with this growing trend, but does it take away from the person’s rights? In some cases it doesn’t but in cases regarding certain religious beliefs it does.

In the workplace, I think it’s important for employers to create a balanced environment for most, if not all people, to do their best work.

Tattoos can act as a distraction, especially in the corporate world. It’s simply just not professional, especially when your job entails interacting with clients. Your appearance not only represents you, it also represents the company’s standards.

Let’s be honest. If you owned a Fortune 500 company, would you hire someone covered with tattoos to represent you?

Most likely not.

I wouldn’t want one person to tarnish the image of my business. However, in some cases, safeguarding your company’s image isn’t that easy.

In recent years, corporations have taken flak for their policies regarding employees and their tattoos.

In August 2005, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Spirits fired Edward Rangel for failure to conceal his tattoos across his wrists. Rangel argued that his religious beliefs considered it a sin to cover up his tattoos.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supported his claim and helped him sue his former employer for religious discrimination. In court, Red Robin argued that to amend its policy regarding Rangel would damage their image to customers.

However, the court ruled in Rangel’s favor because he had initially worked for the company six months without any problem before his termination. Since then, companies have revised their policies to accommodate people with religious tattoo beliefs to avoid future lawsuits.

This prime example illustrates the difficulty of companies today to make policies that favor everyone and do not infringe on the religious rights of people such as Rangel. In the broader scheme of things, how do these revisions regarding tattoos affect the company as a whole? It helps the companies provide a more equal environment, but not for everyone. Allowing some and not all employees the opportunity to show their tattoos can still create tension in the workplace. It’s rare that a religion would force a person to have tattoos, but in today’s culture, anything is possible.

However, the average person only buys a tattoo because it’s cool. It’s not cool to have an art museum on your body, and it’s not cool for everyone to have to see it. For those seeking more conservative jobs, take more consideration regarding the location of a tattoo.

Krystal Upshaw is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Houston.