Tattoos can be a controversial topic. Some people see them as art and a way to express yourself or commemorate something. Others see them as a youthful mistake or bad judgment call. Still, others see them as a reason to not give a person a job they are otherwise fully qualified for and I happen to think that is ridiculous. As long as the applicant is willing to cover their tattoos (if that is what a place of business requires) they should have just as much of a chance as their non-tattooed peers. That is not the case in an instance of clear discrimination involving a trainee teacher at a Catholic school. She is being completely screwed over now after a school’s abrupt change of heart.
From the Mirror, we have the story of Charlotte Tumilty, a 26-year old mother of two and trainee teacher in Hartlepool, England. She had interviewed for and accepted a spot as a trainee teacher at a Catholic school. During the interview, her tattoos and piercings were discussed- she agreed to remove the piercings and cover her tattoos and was told that would be “perfect”. She arrived on her first day and things did not go exactly as planned:
She was told her tattoos were a problem because the school is “strict Catholic”, and they did not project a “professional image”.
Charlotte, who also has purple hair, said: ”They showed me to the class I was working in.
“A woman asked to speak to me in the office and said ‘what we need to discuss is you can still see a bit of your neck tattoo peaking out of your top?’
”I suggested wearing a higher-necked top. The woman said ‘that’s not the point, it’s a strictly Catholic school and tattoos are forbidden’.”
“She said they do have teachers with tattoos, but they cover them up.
“I said ‘yes, I have covered mine up’, but the woman said ‘to be honest, I don’t think it’s appropriate’.
”She then suggested I might be able to uses plasters and bandages to cover them up.
“But I’d look ridiculous.”
All of a sudden, tattoos are a problem even though she interviewed with her tattoos visible and was hired?? Her sleeves covered the tattoos on her arms but the outfit she was wearing still showed some of her neck tattoo, which was visible and acknowledged during her interview. Even though she offered to cover it up with a higher-necked top, all of a sudden, her tattoos are overall inappropriate and they want her to leave? I am not the biggest fan of tattoos for myself but I know plenty of people who have them and it does not stop them from doing their jobs- they cover them up, if required, and everyone moves on. Tumilty needs this training in order to become a teacher. Now, it is too late in the year to get a new placement and this school is basically deciding for her that she won’t be able to continue in her chosen field and she was also totally misled as the tattoos were not an issue at first, as long as she agreed to cover them. I think this is monumentally unfair.
I get that schools and places of business have standards to adhere to- my previous job, in an industry where such things probably don’t matter, still required employees to cover visible tattoos- but it sounds like this woman was turned away despite being willing to make adjustments. This school decided that they just did not want someone like Tumilty with her tattoos and piercings in their school, period. They are being discriminatory and I hope this woman is able to find a new placement so she can secure a future for herself and her children. Her tattoo should not be a stumbling block for a lifetime of employment.