According to a study done by Pew Research Center about 23% of Americans today have tattoos, and 32% of people ages 30-45 have at least one. So with these numbers you would think that employers would lighten up a little for the hiring process.
In a study done by Dr. Andrew Timming of St. Andrews University School of Management, he interviewed 14 different organizations who worked in places such as banks, schools, and prisons. He found that a majority of those surveyed said visible tattoos remain a stigma.
Surveyed employers said that tattoos can “make a person look dirty” and would stop them from hiring them. Even if employers are okay with tattoos, they fear how their customers might react. Dr. Timmings said “It was surmised that customers might project a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs and druggies.”
It is very common for employers to have a dress code policy that may ban visible tattoos. Many employers also require employees to totally cover tattoos either with clothing and/or make-up.
While it may not be fair to discriminate against a tattooed person, it does happen. There is no law that prohibits discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colors, unique hairstyles and so on. There have been some effort to make body art and body modifications protected, but so far they have not been successful.
In recent years, the number of people with tattoos has increased significantly and we may see employers relax their standards in the future, but we are not there yet.