We're familiar with some companies having restrictive policies against visible tattoos in the workplace, but now companies are forcing customers to cover up tattoos in the workplace. Covering tattoos for work might not be your problem, but now when you go to get gas, eat at a restaurant or shop afterward you might be asked to cover up tattoos and piercings. It's a destructive public relations move for business to refuse service to people with tattoos and piercings since combined they make up over 50% of the adult workforce in America. However, it doesn't mean some stores and businesses won't make poor business decisions. STAPAW has always dealt with body modification discrimination and tattoo discrimination in the workplace, but recently we've been flooded with emails of customers now facing tattoo discrimination.
THE 7-11 THAT WON'T SELL WATER
In Albuquerque New Mexico, one of our STAPAW crew stopped at a 7-11 with a friend to buy a water. When she went to purchase the drink she was asked to put the water back and "cover up tattoos" before she could shop. The store clerk said it was store policy that customers couldn't wear risque clothing or have extensive visible tattoos in the workplace at 7-11. Our crew member had no offensive tattoos and no risque clothing. This photo shows what our crew member wore (nothing unusual in 108 degree Albuquerque summer heat). Other store patrons were shocked at the store clerk and walked out. While this isn't indicative of 7-11 corporate's policies, this 7-11 continues to refuse to service to customers with extensive tattoos.
NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO TATTOOS
We're familiar with, "No shoes, No shirt, No Service" signs hanging from store windows, but there's a new sign appearing in stores. Pictured below is a store policy sign reading, "No Face, Neck or Hand Tattoos Allowed In Store." Stores have the right to refuse service to anyone. They should retain that right; however, exercising that right by implementing tattoo discrimination in the workplace on customers is bad for business. Tattooed customers: don't cover up tattoos for work or to shop, just shop somewhere else.
AIRLINE NO FLY LIST
Late at night, our supporter messaged us her friend (Dominique) was being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight because of her visible tattoos. Two points of interest, Dominique has no offensive tattoos, and she was a regular customer. The flight attendants told her she would not be allowed on the flight until she covered her neck and arm tattoos. Dominique had to retrieve a substitute wardrobe for her visible tattoo cover up before boarding. While this isn't typical Southwest Airlines policy, it's shocking a staff member would go above policy and require customers to change or be left stranded with a refunded ticket.
SIX FLAGS ONSITE SCREENING
Theme parks are exciting tourist destinations, except recently if you have visible tattoos, it might be a wasted trip. Last month, several Six Flags visitors were asked to leave and given refunds on their tickets because of their neck, hand or face tattoos. Several amusement parks now implement policies that won't allow certain visible tattoos or extensive tattoos. This has led to visitors being refused for political, Harry Potter, unicorn and even cupcake tattoos in the last month. Several tattoo artists STAPAW partners with have been stopped for onsite screenings where theme park management reviewed the artist's visible tattoos before they were allowed in the park. Management said they were reviewing the tattoos for the same reason park staff were covering tattoos for work: it's a family friendly park.
THE FAMILY FRIENDLY MYTH
The concept that banning visible tattoos in the workplace is family friendly implies parents with tattoos and a family aren't family friendly. The rubric for good parenting is based on character, dedication, and love, not superficial reasons. The implication that children feel uncomfortable around visible tattoos is inaccurate. Children are more scared of "family friendly" mall Santa Clauses than people with tattoos. Tattooed child care providers, nurses, and teachers always have stories about kids loving their tattoos and asking questions. Tattoos are one of the few things as children we think are beautiful, but develop prejudices towards when we're older. Saying, "it's for the children," is an unfounded excuse to permit discrimination.
Some might hear these stories of customers and employees that cover up tattoos for work or to shop and pressure government to put regulations on the freedoms and rights of business. It's important when correcting unfairness or tattoo discrimination to stay balanced. Employers are the economy's backbone and the vast majority of employers don't have these policies. It's important to remember that discrimination never benefits the business. Don't shop where you wouldn't be hired. However, make a stand and statement without trampling on the rights of business owners. Change society through positivity and conscious shopping habits.
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