Tattoos in the Workplace: Okay or No Way?

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Sep 08, 2012

Whether it was the tattoo you got and now regret or some special ink you are proud to wear, tattoos stay with us forever - even in the workplace. Though the tattoo trend is only growing and seeing those without tattoos in certain venues can be unusual, there is still a question of whether tattoos are acceptable in the workplace.

Many who have tattoos will attempt to cover them up during that first interview if they are unsure of how the employer will react to seeing one on a potential employee. Then after being hired maybe they will become more lax about covering it up, but still wonder how they will be perceived if a co-worker or the boss catches a glimpse of that butterfly on their ankle.

Cayla Martin, a University of Calgary master’s student researching the perception of tattoos for young women entering professional careers is quoted in a recent report from Ottawa Citizen explaining how a stigma surrounding body art still exists in the workplace. Martin says, “No matter how many people are obtaining body modifications, there is still that idea of what that means about someone’s capabilities or who they are as a person.”

For some professionals who now regret getting a tattoo or who feel they have been judged too many times for having them in the workplace, getting them removed is no easy feat. The removal process can be timely, sometimes taking between 6 months and a year, and can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Do you think potential employers will often look down on a job applicant if they catch a glimpse of a tattoo?  Have you had any personal experiences with this?

Should employees have to cover up their body art while on the job?

Make a Comment

DamarisGreen by DamarisGreen | Thessaloniki, CO
Jun 04, 2023

I'd like to do tattoo in this place, but different one

boundlesslives by boundlesslives | S OZONE PARK, NY
Jan 29, 2013

I have a few tattoos myself and I love them. They have become apart of my body that sometimes people don't even notice that I have them. They are not in really visible places on purpose so I can wear a high collared shirt and they will be completely out of sight.

leoalex by leoalex | HOUSTON, TX
Oct 09, 2012

when a former employer discovered I had not just one but 2 tattoos, she expressed how she dislike them and had she seen them on my interview I would not have been offered the job. she did thank me for covering them and never discussing them. I felt it was more unprofessional on her behalf to express her disgust. I was offended because i do not use profanity, an vulger or dress improper. a person should not be judged on there tattoos.

Bodaciousb17 by Bodaciousb17 | Lompoc, CA
Oct 08, 2012

As long as they aren't vulgar (gang affiliated/slang) I think they should be fine. I also think it does matter where you work; if you're in a school with kids or the elderly then Id say cover up. I'f you're in hip place (coffee shop) then it shouldn't matter at all.

mom1578 by mom1578 | canton, OH
Sep 22, 2012

I love tattoos. I love the colors and the stories behind them and the art work involved. Do I think they should be acceptable? Yes they should. Are they? No they are not. I love at tattooed individuals as persons who chose to express themselves in a livable fashion. However, my tattoos are not offensive nor are they noticeable. But that is my choice. I don't see why people are always judged because of tattoos or peircings or black hair.....instead of their individuality.

cowgirlpeg by cowgirlpeg | MIDLAND, TX
Sep 22, 2012

I personally don't care for most tattoos but some are attractive. I wonder where the stigma over tattoos came from. They really are just an expression of a person's taste just as jewelry or any other accessory would be.

momsaidthatsit by momsaidthatsit | LIMERICK, PA
Sep 22, 2012

I am the Executive Assistant to the President of our Company and I can tell you that my boss now has a lot more information about his employees and their opinion & ideas regarding the business because of me and my tattoos. Workers in other departments see me as "approachable" and find it easy to open up to me. I think Target is one of them forbid tattoos from being shown at work. We actually had someone call for a driving position with our Company just last week that used to drive for the rock band, Motley Crue. He said he wanted to know if he would be employable because in his words, he was completely inked. The HR Supervisor told him that because of the Company dress code for drivers, he didn't think it would be a problem, but to come in and fill out the application. If he saw anything offensive about them he would tell him directly.

tractorqueen by tractorqueen | RANDLEMAN, NC
Sep 22, 2012

tattoo are more common now than in years past,I have seen many business professionals with them. As long as they are done in a tasteful manner I feel everyone should be allowed to express themselves.No full sleeves if so the yes they should be covered to some degree.Nothing on the face because oh well to me that just screams nasty. i have no tattoos because never really thought about it.but i feel to each your own ,just consider what type of job you can get with some of the tasteless ones you get

countrycass21 by countrycass21 | BROOKHAVEN, MS
Sep 21, 2012

I don't have any tattoos but when I see women that do to me more than one is tacky if I see it. U think a lot of tattoos is tacky If they are hid though noone will know about them so at least you could look professional. But when I think of dressing up for an interview or being professional tattoos do not come to mine.

dishiereads by dishiereads | NORTH POLE, AK
Sep 21, 2012


NewToMom by NewToMom | Sioux City, IA
Sep 21, 2012

I have 4 tattoos total. But only 2 are in spots where someone would see them, one on each foot. One is about the size of quarter and the other is my son's name on the side of my foot. I don't cover them up for interviews but when I interview, I usually wear dress pants and shoes that would cover them. But I don't purposely cover them. I don't think a person should be judged on their tattoos. But sadly, they probably are in some companies. On the other hand, I work for a very large company and they hired someone who is almost covered in tattoos.

babsywabs by babsywabs | Notre Dame, IN
Sep 20, 2012

Like it or not, tattoos are not readily accepted in every environment. Just as it is an employer's right to assign a dress code for their employees, it is their right to declare that tattoos must be covered. it may not be fair, but (s)he who writes the paychecks writes the rules. For those who say they should be accepted everywhere - that may be true, but the world is filled with "shoulds". Most people are willing to accept a small, tasteful tat; full sleeves or full body tattoos are not so readily accepted. There is a culture that goes along with that type of ink-ing, and like it or not, many people do not want to be exposed to that culture on a daily basis. We all make assumptions about people based on what we see, fair or not. A business is represented by its employees, and they are the first face that people see. It is perfectly reasonable that an employer can say no to exposed tattoos in the workplace.

jaye1975 by jaye1975 | DREXEL HILL, PA
Sep 19, 2012

I think that certain types of jobs will judge you if you have visible corporate office type jobs. If someone is going for this kind of employment it would probably be a good idea to cover them up.

rissaf2001 by rissaf2001 | Woodland, WA
Sep 19, 2012

I think that as long as your tattoos arent offensive it shouldnt be a big deal in most work places!

ShyannaD by ShyannaD | CARLISLE, IA
Sep 17, 2012

Tattoos should be accepted everywhere.