Friday, October 31, 2008


Cities and school districts across the country are forcing their employees to cover up tattoos if they want to keep their jobs.

The edicts have been issued to maintain a good image, say the communities, and they have been applied to teachers, janitors, firefighters and others.

"We didn't want to offend some people in the community," says Capt. Armando Hogan, spokesman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, where employees were ordered last spring to cover all tattoos while on duty. "I have been on drills and on scene where someone has said, 'I wouldn't want that person working on me,' and we've had to educate the individual who made the comment."

Among the cities:

• Bountiful, Utah, decided in August that new employees must not show any tattoos.

• The Pasco County School Board in Florida has ordered employees to hide "offensive" tattoos.

• In Missouri, the Joplin School Board will vote on a no-visible-tattoo policy this year.

The orders to cover up have been growing as tattoos become more popular, especially tattoos on the face, neck, hands and fingers. Some workers feel the policy is unfair.

"We don't allow discrimination based on skin color, yet we came up with a policy that discriminated against people with color on their skin," says Steve Tufts, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City.

Joplin Schools Superintendent C.J. Huff says students are getting teaching degrees, getting tattoos, and then applying for jobs. "We're saying before you get a tattoo, you have to think about how big it is and where it's located before you think about getting a job in our school district," he says.

The rule in Bountiful was passed after applicants with hard-to-conceal tattoos showed up for interviews for jobs in the police, streets and sanitation departments. City Manager Tom Hardy says city leaders had to decide: "Either we're going to do nothing about it, or we're going to do something about it."

In each community, officials cite the exploding popularity of tattoos.

Bob Baxter, editor in chief of Skin & Ink magazine, agrees with the restrictive policies. Baxter says neck and face tattoos used to appear only on heavily tattooed people who ran out of space.

"What's happening (now) is that a lot of young people figure that the best way to show that 'I'm in the tattoo community' is to get tattoos in very conspicuous places," Baxter says. "I don't think it's a good idea. It's hard to get work."

Comment: (ones I found most interesting)

"I think covering up tattoos (especially on face, neck, arms) is a good idea in the work place. While I don't encourage discrimination against those who choose to get inked (except with idiotic pieces) I do think that the non-inked individuals have a more professional look than their tattooed counterparts. Those who are upset over not getting jobs due to their tattoos obviously didn't think the tat through well enough. I have 6 tattoos (some are decently sized) and, when wearing office clothes or scrubs (as I do at work) nobody would ever know I have tattoos. It's all about being inconspicuous with the placement....

So, if you're stupid enough to tattoo your face, arms, or neck, did it to yourself."

"I am a student teacher at the moment, and I have 4 tattoos. I got them where they can be easily hidden, and I thought about my professional future when I got them. I thought to myself, "Will these impede me professionally?" Tattoos are perfectly acceptable in a professional setting as long as they are not seen. I wouldn't want to work with a teacher who decided it would be a good idea to get a full sleeve of tattoos and then decide to work with children. Mine are never seen by my students, nor will they ever."

For those of you who have said that people with tattoos are "white trash" or "going to only get jobs at Burger King" etc.....I am 40 years old. I am a Registered Nurse Manager and my income is slightly under 100K. I live in California, and have four tattoos. For all of you who commented on how "nasty" they can does happen to be on the back of my neck. All of them are tasteful, flowers or such, and I have never been asked to leave a job. I have NEVER had a patient ask that I not care for them, or have them think I couldnt care for them because I have a tattoo. I am college educated and actually didnt get my first tattoo until well into my thirties. Personal choice people."

"I have several tats. I work in a nursing home, where I am required to cover them while in scrubs. Most of mine are covered by my clothes, I do have one on my wrist which I have to wear a braclet to cover. While I understand the need for me to cover them because of the generation views, I do not feel it is right to lable people just because they have a tat. I do not see Angelina Jolie having a hard time getting movie roles because she has tats. Nor do I see her getting any pay cuts. People need to look at the ENTIRE nation, not just a few jobs when putting lables on tats. I am willing to bet that a few of the political leaders have tats, that are covered. You can not say that just because someone has a tattoo it means they are in a gang or want to be. People do it for many different reasons. Everyone does it for a reason, some cultures do it as a sign of respect for a passing loved one. Piercings are a good example of this. I have a very good friend who has several piercings, and she is Indian. It is part of her culture. I think that it is something that should be accepted as part of who a person is. I do not see people looking down on someone for putting hair dye in their hair or perming it. Changing ones appearence to what makes them happy should not matter to anyone but that person. This country has developed a serious problem of judging others, when no one has the right to judge anyone."

Read the article on the USA Today page for more of the comments.

Now my opinion:

Many of the comments are very dogmatic towards people with tattoos. One of the comments said that people are not allowed to discriminate against people with different skin color so why should they discriminate against people with tattoos. That is crossing the line. Skin color is something you are born with, It's not something that you choose. NOT that having a different skin color is something that you should be ashamed of. Tattoos are a choice, You choose to have that on your body. I don't like full body tattoos. But I don't think people are freaks because they have them. I do not believe that obscene tattoos should be displayed that is along the lines of public exposure or cursing in front of children some people choose not to be exposed to that, Why force it down their throat. They have made a choice and people should respect that. Just as people with tattoos have made a choice to have them. You want to have a obscene tattoo. Go for it but don't flash it around. Obscene tattoos are like obscene clothing. It is simply in bad taste. Would I hire someone with full body tattoos? Well I don't classify people by that but if they had a tattoo on their forehead that said loser I might have to consider it. ;) I would not allow an employee with a obscene tattoo to display them while they are on duty.


inpassing said...

So was the last paragraph your comment?

Inquiries said...

Yes ma'am it sure is

inpassing said...

Just wanted to be sure...seemed like it was, but wasn't sure if it was an extension of the other articles. I may have an opinion later, but can't take the time now. Well, I have an opinion now...but no time to think through how to write it.

Course of Perfection said...

Even beyond professionalism...Anyone considering a tattoo should visit old people they know with tats. I don't think tats age well. My family told a cousin that got a huge rose on the small of her back that it would one day look like a roll of toilet Something to think about...

Buck said...

Tats are probably a generational thing as far as acceptability goes. In my generation the only people who had tats were military people (mostly sailors and Marines, when ya get right down to it), sideshow freaks, and cons. A woman with a tattoo was as rare as the proverbial hens teeth. I don't believe I EVER saw a woman with a tat until sometime in the '80s. Srsly.

And, being true to my generation, I REALLY wish our values as a society would have remained in this space. A tat can say (or mean) many things, but what it says to me is "irresponsible." It's kinda funny, but my perceptions have not often been wrong in this space. Once or twice... but not often. YMMV.

Junk Diva said...

I agree with COP, on the age thing that rose on your hip ain't going to be so cute when your 70. LOL People get tats for so many different reasons, but I can't think that the mark on your skin will hold that same meaning your WHOLE LIFE. If done as an act of rebellion, you will be reminded of it forever.

As far as covering them at work, I agree, I would not be comforted by a paramedic working on me with skulls and flames down his arm.

Bag Blog said...

I remember when girls had to wear dresses to school. In the early 70's we were allowed to wear "pant suits" while guys could wear jeans. Finally in high school (mid 70s') girls were allowed to wear jeans. When I started teaching, jeans were unacceptable, but you could wear cheap polyester pants. Why all the fuss? People had a preconceived idea of jeans as "work clothes" or "low class" or "farmer wear." Some people still feel that way. I think it is a similar to how people feel about tats. They seem "irresponsible" and "low class," or for bikers and military sorts. I think that opinion is changing, but I still see them as rebellious and stupid, but a bit intriguing. At least with jeans, you can simply take them off if they are offensive. Tattoos are forever.

Inquiries said...

Inpassing: Looking forward to it.

Perfection: So true!

Buck: I tend to agree with you. For some reason when I see a person covered in tattoos I see a person that lacks restraint. That many not me true for all or any of them but that is my first thought.

Diva: That's true as well!

Lou: Tastes change, Why have something that will haunt you you whole life.

Seeing a business professional with tattoos is a put off.

inpassing said...

Sorry...I'll get my thoughts together soon.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

i have a tattoo...actually you HAVE seen covers my entire body and is skin colored. I may have been foolish...but well, i was pretty young when i got it. At this point i can take it or leave it...more often than not i'd rather leave it. I keep trying to cut it off day by day...but you know where that gets you.