Magazine

'I lost a job because of my tattoos'

  • 22 September 2014
  • From the section Magazine
Tattooed person using tablet

Readers have been getting in touch about their experiences of terminated job interviews, losing out on promised promotions and leaving jobs because of their tattoos.

It followed a Magazine article which asked whether discrimination against people with tattoos should be banned in the workplace.

Here are some of their stories.

'I was told I'm a bad example to children'

I'm 35 and quite heavily tattooed. I had a job as a mid-day assistant at a school. I was taken on having tattoos and facial piercings which during the winter months was fine as I was covered up, but when the summer arrived my arms were on show.

I was promptly issued with a "standards of dress" guide. It said that visible tattoos and facial piercings were not setting a good example and should be covered up. This was the first bit of communication I had received during my job.

I was good at my job and the children seemed to like talking about my tattoos. I did start a bit of a campaign but I didn't want to work in an environment that said because I have tattoos and a piercing I cannot do the job.

After a week or so I went to see the headmaster and resigned with immediate effect. He had called me in to have meetings with personnel over the issues I had raised, but I didn't feel I wanted to work in a place that discriminates against tattoos and piercings and I don't believe I should have to fight to justify that I'm a hard worker and a decent person.

I just feel it's sad that in 2014 we can be so discriminatory about people's choices, I feel sad that children grow up being taught these shallow-minded views. The best bit was that after a month or so of me leaving they had a school fete with a temporary tattoo stall for the children!

Karla Valentine, Suffolk, UK

'I had my working hours cut'

Image caption Sam showing her tattoo and in her old work uniform

My old boss was against body modifications because of her religious beliefs. I was constantly harassed about my piercings and tattoos.

I had hours cut after getting my tattoos, even though they aren't visible. I have both feet done as well, but always wear socks and shoes. I work in childcare and was told that even out in public I had to keep appearances up, so to keep covered, because I might see the children I looked after outside hours.

In my uniform you can't see my tattoos. As I keep it professional but I've been told that I'm unapproachable and scary with tattoos and piercings and that could lose potential clients to the business.

Sam, Brisbane, Australia

'I was told to cover up'

I have both full sleeves and my previous employer stated you had to cover all tattoos when in work hours, which I found wrong because other members of staff were allowed to wear earrings which is another form of body modification. One rule for one et al.

I now work for a company that does not discriminate against tattoos. I am currently a contract manager for a hospital. In my previous job I was an operations manager where their policies stated that all tattoos had to be covered up at all times. This included any contractor working on site.

Jef, Teddington, UK

'My job interview was terminated'

I'm a heavily tattooed 20-year-old girl. I've had very mixed reactions to my art. I find that because I'm such a young girl and have as many as I do (I lost count at 50) that people either love them and find me brave or hate me and insult me by using my tattoos as ammunition.

I've even had an employer hang up the phone on me when they found out I had tattoos.

About a year and a half ago, in 2012, I applied for a job as a waitress. It was a half telephone interview, half seeing when you're free. It was going fine. The employer started talking about the uniform. When he said it was short-sleeved, as soon as I said I had my arms tattooed, he just hung up.

I was working as a shop assistant in a mobile phone shop when a customer started screaming in my face. They had some problems with their top-up I was trying to help them with but they had bought it from another shop and I couldn't give them a refund. They completely switched.

"You've only got this job because you've got tattoos," they shouted. They were saying I was disgusting and I'd let down the company. They just really kicked off - you know, when they do that look when they tut and they spit at the same time. And then walked out of the shop, so I went round the back and cried.

I have had awards for my customer service and in that shop my manager had sleeves, my other manager had a neck tattoo.

I'm not rude or horrible. I don't do drugs or anything. I work hard, pay bills, do charity work for animals and yet they call me disgusting names for no reasons. The art I have isn't even offensive. Just cause I'm heavily tattooed doesn't mean I'm nasty, scary or stupid.

Amii Parr, Reading, UK

'I missed out on a promotion'

I was promised a promotion when I turned 18. I was waiting on this promotion from a buser - a person who buses tables, washes dishes, serves food and stocks coolers - to a server at a bar and grill for five months.

On my 18th birthday I got a half-sleeve and my boss immediately denied me the promotion he promised me even though some of my co-workers had much more visible tattoos and piercings.

I quit a month later.

He didn't say directly that it was because of my tattoo, but the comments he made toward me made it clear he didn't like it. He asked me if I was crazy for getting it and why my parents would let me do this to myself.

He also said it's very dark (I don't really know if he meant dark as in black or dark as in creepy) and that I'm better for in the kitchen rather then being a waitress.

Emily, Wisconsin, USA

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