Workzone: Tattoos are losing their taboo

Workzone: Tattoos are losing their taboo

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Workzone: Tattoos are losing their taboo

Josh Cascone, 23, prays during Bible study at In the Blood Tattoo and Piercing, the South Side headquarters of The End Ministries, an emergent ministry that offers hospitality to those who are disenchanted with mainstream churches. By Steve Twedt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There was a time when sporting a tattoo meant “you’re either a sailor, in the circus or fresh out of prison,” Texas law professor Brian Elzweig notes.

Not anymore.

A 2008 Harris Poll survey found 32 percent of adults between 25 and 29 had a tattoo, as did 25 percent of those 30 to 39 years old. The tattoo rate, trails off quickly among older adults but make no mistake:

The U.S. workforce is ink-creasingly inked.

A study by Mr. Elzweig and Texas A&M University/ Corpus Christi colleague Donna Peeples has looked at legal cases and potential workplace conflicts that can arise when tattoos and piercings enter the workplace — and found that employers usually come out on top.

There was the Sam’s Club employee in Madison, Wis., who sued after being told her eyebrow ring violated the company’s dress code policy. An appeals court ruled in Sam’s Club’s favor. Or the Subway restaurant worker who claimed she wore a nose ring as part of her religion. A jury disagreed with her.

Red Robin, decided to settle a suit brought by an employee for $150,000 after its summary judgment motion was denied. In that case, the worker had two narrow tattoos that wrapped around his wrist, a religious passage written in ancient Egyptian script.

Despite their winning percentage, Mr. Elzweig said in a phone interview that human resources staffs would be remiss not to monitor changing attitudes and local ordinances because winning arguments cost companies time and money.As tattoos and piercing become more common, tolerance and even acceptance grows, too.“In the future,” the authors write, “this may indicate that employers will be less likely to discriminate on the basis of tattoos because more people with tattoos may be doing the […]