Five reasons restaurant employees should be allowed to have tattoos and piercings

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Being stylish has its price: For restaurant employees, having a tongue barbell, ear plugs, bright pink locks or an anime tattoo on their arms could get them fired, bitched at -- or not hired in the first place. An unconventional look with body modifications and Manic Panic really should not be a deterrent to working in the food-service industry, but it often is -- and while some employers are rational and realistic, there are still other who actually believe that customers will be freaked out to the point of choking on their meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the sight of some ink or a nose ring.

I'm calling bullshit on all that. Here's my list of five reasons why restaurant employees should be allowed to have visible tattoos and piercings. Let the freak flags fly, with a side of fries and a Coke.

See also:
- Top eight Colorado flag tattoos
- Top ten most unusual Denver Broncos tattoos
- Tattoo artist/rock star Corey Miller on music, ink and television

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5. People with ink and metal are not automatically unhygienic
Here's a news flash: Most people who choose to get ink or piercings regularly bathe and groom. During the course of my career, I've heard gross mischaracterizations from food-service employers about applicants with ink and piercings being dirty, unkempt, even disease-ridden -- and at the very least, certain to scare poor, hapless customers who would almost certainly abandon their chicken fingers and make a dash for the parking lot upon seeing a lip ring or hint of ink through a shirt sleeve. Sure, there are people who don't wash themselves, get trashed on cough syrup and pierce themselves with safety pins, and get horrible jailhouse tats in their friend's garage (or in actual jail) -- but being a non-showering McNasty isn't exclusive to people who get alternative body modifications. And anyone who acts like an idiotic tweener shouldn't be hired by restaurants, anyway -- that's what mall food courts are for.

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4. Tats don't bleed into food, and jewelry doesn't fall out often
Employers who ask their staff to cover up their tattoos with long sleeves or bandages should be held down and forcibly tattooed, on the face, with the words "I'm a giant dick!" -- because servers running around with bandages over tattoos and Band-Aids over piercings look stupid, and also present a way worse image to customers. Instead of appearing to have gotten some ink during spring break in Cancun or a Monroe with a shiny, pink gemstone for their birthday, they look like they were beaten up the night before in a bar brawl.

I understand that managers get bent out of shape at the idea that someone could drop a ball, or a ring could end up in someone's plate of vegan squash soup -- but in reality, only cheap body jewelry is that flimsy, and it takes a concerted effort to unscrew/tug loose a well-made, well-fitting piece. Why not compromise and just tell employees not to buy crap body jewelry from Spencer Gifts -- or they'll be written up or canned on the spot on general principle.

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3. Customers are sporting rings, barbells and ink themselves
I never understood why restaurants insist they have an image to maintain that includes making sure employees adhere to an outdated dress code, when people who eat in these restaurants don't live in bubbles or vacuums. It's not logical to assume that diners would be mortally offended by a server or host(ess) having a tattoo or an eyebrow ring, when most of them have a modest bit of ink and an extra hole here and there themselves.

Most restaurant patrons simply want the people who cook their food and the people who bring it to them to be clean, friendly and non-intrusive. A cook having a Batman tat on his neck isn't going to affect the taste of food either way, and a server having snakebites isn't going to make coffee go cold or beer go warm.

Besides, I have ink and piercings, and restaurants have no problem taking my money.

Continue reading for more reasons.

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65 comments
floridianfool63
floridianfool63

I tip tatted servers less. I tend not to go back to restaurants if service has visible tattoos; Especially if it is a more upscale dining place. Cold cash trumps that stupid list. 

bugsycook
bugsycook

Five reasons restaurant employees should be allowed to have tattoos and piercings? ~ Because even losers need a job too.

JoBlack
JoBlack

I have ear piercings, and an upper arm tattoo. The ink is covered by any shirt with sleeves, but the four earrings are tasteful but stand out. 

I am a grade school teacher. I wore my jewelery to my interview when I was hired, and I wear it every day to work. None of my students, their parents, my co-workers or anyone else has ever mentioned anything about my piercings. Well, anything negative that is.

My wife has about ten ear piercings, and a nose piercing, as well as a tattoo on the back of her neck. She works as a cocktail waitress and bartender, and makes more money doing that than I do with my degrees and contract salary. 

 So explain to me again how having ink and tattoos is a lesson about having to work a crappy job. 

Maire Severin
Maire Severin

As a mother whose 4 children have various degrees of piercings and tattoos, I will state I'm not crazy about this new trend (and they understand that) but I figure my kids are old to decide for themselves and I would love them no matter what they looked like. The article mentions "freedom" of choice to appear as one pleases, yet freedom works both ways... the owner of an establishment also has the freedom to decide the appearance of employees. There are many types of restaurants suited for all people including ones where the waitresses show excessive cleavage and fannies. Restaurants aren't just about the menu, atmosphere is a major factor too!

Johnny Genova
Johnny Genova

Dumb, I'm guessing its shithole restaurants like TGIF Fridays and Chilies making a stink about this. In my opinion let them. These peps can find a way better place to work anyway.

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

I like to go to restaurants where the staff has a lot of piercings and tattoos because it's a great way to teach my kids a lesson. 

I make it clear to them that if they pollute their body with piercings and tattoos then low paying service industry jobs will be the only opportunity available to them in life. 

I plan on taking my 13 year old to Old Major for his birthday so he knows where he will end up if doesn't shave or exercise. 

Mista D'Mac
Mista D'Mac

There are a lot of people who work in food service that have tattoos and piercings. By banning them restaurants will miss out on a lot of talented and creative people.

Jessica Breemen
Jessica Breemen

Good read :) i have ink and peircing. I dig them. alot. I think this needs to be expanded well beyond serving.

Ian Errl
Ian Errl

It sparked a debate because of how stupid the article is...employers aren't even tripping about tats and piercings.

Ken Tucker
Ken Tucker

We go out to eat dressed as ourselves...why shouldn't we be served by someone who is themselves? Ridiculous that this is an issue!

Sumibraxis Dei
Sumibraxis Dei

I hate to tell you this... but most of us do... :)

Lumnija Gjoni
Lumnija Gjoni

its not like their sticking their piercings in the food, so why should people give a fuck?

David Biniek
David Biniek

I've heard that Tokyo Joe's only hire those who have a tattoo or piercing, but I'm not sure if this is true.

Ian Errl
Ian Errl

Wait, so this is about sick people and healthcare? Or piercings/tattoos? Cause the article lead me to believe....well, it didn't really have anything to say.

Cindy Zavala
Cindy Zavala

Greed? Businesses are in the business of making a profit. Many small businesses are going to be absolutely crushed by the provisions in Obamacare that require them to provide expensive health insurance coverage for their employees. This is going to make them even less competitive with companies in other countries where businesses are not required to provide healthcare for their workers. This is also going to make it even less attractive for businesses to hire new employees. You need to do your homework, Skid.

Naomi Wolinsky
Naomi Wolinsky

Does this mean it is a slow news day at Westword ?

Naomi Wolinsky
Naomi Wolinsky

I was not aware it was an issue, nor do i think it should be. If this is what people are spending their precious brain cells worrying about, humanity is worse off than i thought.

Cindy Zavala
Cindy Zavala

When Obama care kicks in, employers will be forced to cut payroll. Also cut people's hours to part time. Just wait.

Ian Errl
Ian Errl

Why is this even an article?

Emily Schneider
Emily Schneider

I don't care if my waiter or waitress or cook has tattoos and/or piercings. If you're doing your job and doing it WELL, what else matters? (;

Jimmy Curtis
Jimmy Curtis

Shits that I give? Zero. Make me good food!

ericsmiles2
ericsmiles2

If I wanted to be served by someone who looks like a clown, I'll go to the circus.

Dan Smith
Dan Smith

Should be up to the business owner who they hire

Skid Jarrett Gilmore
Skid Jarrett Gilmore

You? More like "we" need... Sick people that have to show up for their weekend shift or get fired handle your food...

Tommy Romero
Tommy Romero

Well we are on the topic of health benefits, what else do we want!!!!!!;)

Adam Cooper
Adam Cooper

It should be allowed but just know you get what you pay for.

Cindy Zavala
Cindy Zavala

Skid, they will get health benefits. If they have a job to go to that is.

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

Why not? As long as their hands/nails are clean, what does it matter? They are delivering drinks and food, not licking it.

floridianfool63
floridianfool63

I am a liberal atheist and I loathe tattoos. This tattoo thing crosses all political lines, on either side of the issue. 

endot
endot

@WillieStortz  I happen to have a "real" job with multiple visible tattoos that I don't cover up and bright pink hair. I work in an office for great money, for a relatively conservative, large corporation. As long as I do my job, nobody cares. It all ends up being about competency, not about how you look.  I also did work in the service industry for several years, and the majority of restaurants pay pretty well, enough to live comfortably, as long as you know what you're doing, and restaurant jobs are much harder than most cubicle jobs.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@WillieStortz Wouldn't it be funny if your kid ended up being c*nty like you, and still ended up flipping burgers?

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@Naomi Wolinsky Bah. I have a few brain cells left over from my Zima-drinking marathons in the 1990s. I can spare them for this. And humanity is still pretty bad either way....lol.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@Ian Erlandson Why are you even posting? : )

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@Stacey Rogers People should pay extra if I'M licking their food....

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