Art or graffiti?

The BBC has today reported on pressure to outlaw discrimination against employees on the grounds of tattoos. “Body art” is enjoying record levels of popularity, resulting in some questioning why they should be treated differently because of their decision in this regard.

The problem is that beauty is in the eye of beholder. One person’s art is another’s graffiti. Many tattoos are also designed to provoke a reaction and to promote a sense of individuality. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that many employers ask staff to cover their designs up. If a specific business does not have strong views of its own, it may well be concerned about how customers may react to tattooed staff.

So, what are the chances of body art being added to the list of characteristics protected through discrimination law? In my view, negligible. Why? Firstly, because we have a Government agenda aimed at cutting red tape on business, and secondly because all other protected characteristics are to do with the rights of individuals as they are, rather than being reflective of fashion and the extent of personal choice involved in getting a tattoo.

Back to index