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Tat and Piercing Discrimination—Can We Change It?

Discrimination against Tattoo and Piercing Septum Ring Kiera Rose

Many of us who heart piercings and tattoos are fortunate enough to have awesome jobs we love, and that love us back, such as tat artist/apprentice, shop employee, business owner, or (if you’re really lucky) a work-from-home freelancer/writer/artist/photographer, etc. However, if your beloved and/or chosen career lies within a more business-like realm, ink and metal accessories are not just unprofessional, they may be downright taboo.

As unfair as it may be, discrimination against those who have visible tattoos and piercings has become a formidable opposition in the work force. Over the past few years, employers have moved from asking pierced potential employees to wear clear retainers in their piercings and long sleeves over peek-a-boo tattoos that seemed offensive or vulgar, or otherwise derogatory to the nature of their business or company, to flat-out refusing to hire anyone with any such physical décor.

Ink and Piercing Discrimination Naomi King

Model - The Inspiring Naomi King
Septum Ring - Indian Mystique - 14 k  Solid Gold

Model On Cover - The Gorgeous Kiera Rose
Septum Ring - Indian Mystique - 14 k  Solid Gold

At first, this was an acceptable practice; employers have as much right to fire, or refuse to hire, people for any reasons they see fit (so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights according to the Equal Opportunity regulations). However, tatted and pierced workers have grown tired of struggling to find gainful employment year after year, just because they choose to express themselves with “unorthodox” artistic methods. So, we’re fighting back!

Tattoos Do NOT Equate to Gang Life

One of the biggest reasons that employers vow to keep their staff tattoo- and piercing-free is because of the art’s “well-known” ties to gang affiliation. As “many people believe,” gang life often includes violence, drug use, and a host of other “unsavory” activities that do not reflect well on the reputation of family- or religion-oriented businesses and organizations. However, as many other people KNOW, not all “gangs” represent the negative things with which tattoos and piercings often become associated. Nor do all body modifications relate in ANY way to the gangs or activities for which they are shunned. While these points alone are often hard to prove, there are two old-fashioned methods that work!

A simple background check would tell an employer just how “violent” or “unsavory” a potential employee is, and perhaps even how his or her personal life could reflect on his or her job performance, or on the company’s reputation, if hired for a position. Also, drug tests are still very reliable, and will weed out any drug users who might jeopardize the business or co-workers by showing up for work under the influence. So, we tat hearters and metal heads are pushing for more employment opportunities based on the truths uncovered in background checks and drug tests, rather than on the myths assumed by less-educated people on the artwork on our bodies. We don’t expect special treatment; just a fair, honest chance!

Tattoo and Piercing Discrimination Lusy Logan
Model - The Gorgeous Lusy Logan
Septum Ring - Cool Breeze


Following (Law) Suit

Whenever possible, some employees who feel they were refused a promotion, or even fired, because they bear ink, or metal accessories, take employers and companies to court. The basis is often that, if an employer hired them with the knowledge that the employee in question possessed tattoos and/or piercings, that equates to acceptance of said accessories, and a waiver of any dress code policy (or lenience due to a lack thereof). This would mean that an employee could not, by law, be denied raises or promotion opportunities offered to other employees with his or her same experience, current job position, seniority, etc., NOR could he or she be relieved from his or her position because of the artwork/jewelry. In theory, this is a sound and just argument, and in some instances, proved to help create winnable lawsuit cases. However, a common loophole that helps employers win these cases is another one that goes right along with a company’s right to hire/fire at will: how “offensive” or “derogatory” co-workers, clients, and/or customers find the employee’s body modifications.

We’re not saying that all businesses and employers are underhanded on purpose, but an easy method of denying employees promotions or continued employment involves compiling a list of complaints regarding said employee’s tattoos and piercings. The employee isn’t allowed to inquire about the exact nature of the situation regarding the complaints in some states, and employers do not, by law, have to disclose specific details about the complaints, or in many cases, prove them. Or, depending on the type of establishment, an employer may be able to claim that a person’s piercings have become unsafe, posing hazards or safety risks, both to the employee and to co-workers or customers. In these cases, the employee often cannot disprove these claims, and he or she ends up losing the suit.

Please note: we are NOT advising you to raise an unjust fuss with our next suggestion! Please be sure to do all your homework and comparisons before filing lawsuits all over the place. However, if you find your own loopholes (i.e.: no dress code, written or implied, which you agreed to follow by signing an employee handbook or file document, proof that other employees in or below your job position have similar tattoos and/or piercings, witnesses to false complaints, etc.), speak to a lawyer about filing a suit! The only way to beat certain injustices is to wear them down, and the best way to do that is to try, try again!

Tattoo and Piercing Discrimination Septum Ring Amelie Axelson
Model - Beautiful Amelie Axelson
Septum Ring - Tribal Beauty - 14 k  Solid Rose Gold


Petitions

Petitions have existed for as long as injustices have arisen, in many cultures. These documents provide a non-violent, anti-protest alternative for people who want to be heard, without causing too much of a ruckus within their community. Powerful, well-known and supported petitions also have a way of making appearances in committee meetings and hearings, and those with enough signatures and positive publicity often receive stamps of approval from prominent officials.

As such, petitions are growing in popularity as a means to overturn or appeal decisions made by cities, or individual business policies, that prevent people with tattoos and piercings from being hired or promoted to certain fields or positions of employment. If you feel that the support for tattoos and piercings in the workplace is strong enough in your community, try starting a petition!

Tell All!

If you, or someone you know, has battled the work force regarding tattoos and piercings, and won, we wanna hear about it! We are always looking for success stories to help our tribe succeed in life, because we know everyone’s dreams and goals matter!

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