New law proposed to prevent discrimination against people with tattoos in New York City

Kemberly Richardson Image
Thursday, September 29, 2022
Push for new law to prevent discrimination against people with tattoos
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The NYC Council has a proposed bill to outlaw discriminating against people who have tattoos - both in the workplace and when renting a home. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Council has a proposed bill to outlaw discriminating against people who have tattoos - both in the workplace and when renting a home.

If it is passed, tattoos would join race, gender, age and sexual orientation as protective categories.

Stephanie Ray works in public accounting at a major international firm and got her fifth tattoo on Thursday. Doing so is discouraged, especially for client-facing employees.

"If we're meeting with a director for a client, I always wear long sleeve shirts," Ray said. "I'm worried about the perception it gives, I wouldn't want them to think I'm less professional."

That stigma could be a thing of the past under proposed legislation that would leave a huge mark in New York City.

The first-of-its-kind bill would prohibit discrimination based on having a tattoo. It would apply to employees and service and housing providers.

Councilman Shaun Abreu is a co-sponsor.

"We should be focused on merit-based work, can you do the jobs, if the answer is you can do the job, what does it matter if you have a tattoo," Abreu said.

Folks at Inked Magazine say there has been a major shift with a growing number of people asking for tattoos on their hands, necks and faces, which at one point was considered so-called job stoppers.

"All the reality TV brought it into everybody's home and it made tattoos less scary," said Charlie Connell with Inked Magazine.

The proposed legislation would not protect tattoos containing hate speech or symbols linked to racism.

But experts warn: know your audience -- the workplace culture.

"Tattoos are one of the main things that make a first impression on employees and depending on what it is , they have a subliminal connection or disconnection of that tattoo," work place expert Stephen Viscusi said.

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