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20-40-60 Etiquette: Tattoos in the workplace?

20-40-60 Etiquette weighs in on whether a co-worker should cover up the tattoo on her arm, with Joe Hight as guest.
BY CALLIE GORDON, LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN, HELEN FORD WALLACE Modified: April 25, 2012 at 10:54 am •  Published: April 25, 2012

QUESTION: My co-worker has a tattoo on her arm and loves to show it off; however, since we are around the public so much, I am not sure that everyone thinks it looks wonderful. Should she cover it up? Is a tattoo a workplace issue?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Depending on where you work, as well as where the tattoo is, yes, cover it up. If it is distracting, or if it could be offending to any group or person, don't forget to cover it up.

Work is a place for you to put your best foot forward. Always make sure you maintain a professional appearance and do not distract from the business at hand. Think before you ink!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Your co-worker's tattoo is a workplace issue only if it bothers her boss or prevents clients/customers from patronizing the business and they notify the boss. Other than that, since you don't appear to be her supervisor, it probably isn't your concern unless the art on her arm is blatantly offensive. Perhaps it's a good idea for her to wear sleeves out in public, but that's the boss's call.

All you can do is teach your children, if you have any, that perception and initial impressions matter in the workplace and that if they want a tattoo they should wait until they are grown to get one. Whether beautiful or tasteless, or hidden or in full view, tattoos are (mostly) permanent, and it's best to decide on one carefully as an adult who has already decided on a career/life choice. There are too many stories these days about people growing up and starting a career while regretting their rash decision made as a teenager to ink their bodies.

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