Body art accepted as self-expression

Some students have found out the hard way that employers don’t always like tattoos and piercings.

Now a recent court case in Ottawa may force employers to find reasonable grounds for forcing employees to hide body art. A Ottawa Hospital enforced staff to cover up large tattoos and hide visible piercings. Nurses were told to wear their lab coats during breaks at work.
Tattoos and piercings can create a block for employers before a single word is spoken, says UOIT student Justin Bolshin, “You want to be judged on your own merits,” he says. Distractions like tattoos and piercings may stop employers from concentrating on the interview, he adds. “I know one individual has a cartilage piercing, and he has to take it out every time he goes for an interview,” says Bolshin.
Tattoos and piercings are a personal preference, but re
spect to an employer needs to be a priority, he says. “I’ve interviewed at a few schools and I can see how conservative they like to be,” he says, adding that through the interview process the employer tries to get a feel of the person’s character.
Brooke Igel, an Advertising and Marketing Communications Management student at Durham College, says first impressions can prove everything to an employer.“However, with that being said, just because someone has a few tattoos or piercings their work ethic should not be questioned or doubted,” she says, adding she has seen others lose jobs because of body art. “I know that if you show up to a job interview at McDonalds with a sleeve of tattoos or piercings it is highly frowned upon.” Igel believes the issue is redundant. “There is always ways to cover up body art so I don’t understand why there is an issue,” she said. Erica Harvey a DC student,on her way to becoming a nurse. “I’m a fan of tattoos. I wish I could have more of them. But, I can’t because of the way people still view them,” she says. “I’d like to be able to go in the career you want and have them showing.”
Society has made a step to accepting change however there’s still a stigma associated with tattoos and piercings, she adds. “A lot of people view them as wrong,” she says. “I had a friend who had eyebrow piercings and got them while she was working in the food industry and actually lost her job, because she refused to take them out,” she said. Harvey believes that as the younger generation gets older, tolerance to personal choices will be allowed and tolerable. Gary Gannon, a Human Resources teacher at Durham College,says everyone has the right to display their personal expression.“It’s a form of expression. And it’s their right to do that,” he said. “Key thing is, it’s just not the manager’s opinion.”
Gannon says it’s interesting to note there were hardly any complaints from the hospital patients.
Gannon’s daughter arrived with a magnetic nose stud, and he was initially just confused. “If she got one, on a permanent basis, at the end of the day, it wouldn’t have bothered me,” he said.

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