Tattoos have long been associated with felons or undesirable members of society in Western culture. There has been a mind shift regarding the acceptance of tattoos in the workplace and in society in general. Does this shift apply to drivers in the trucking industry?
In the United States of America, most trucking companies allow their drivers to have tattoos. However, these rules are not legislated and differ depending on each Company’s policies and employee code of conduct. The placement and nature of the images determine the acceptance of the tattoos.
While there has been widespread acceptance of tattoos, many Company’s draft regulations to ensure that the tattoos are appropriate for the work being performed. These are important to consider giving trucking culture and tattoos.
Regulation Of Tattoos In The Trucking Industry
Although it is estimated that over 80% of truck drivers in the United States of America have tattoos, recent surveys have found that upwards of 30% of tattooed truck drivers report rules and regulations from companies that regulate these.
The most common regulations include the nature of the imagery displayed by tattoos, the placement of the tattoos, and the instances when tattoos may be displayed.
Regarding the nature of the imagery displayed, it is generally held that truck drivers may not have tattoos of an offensive nature, including but not limited to:
- Sexually explicit or inappropriate tattoos
- Racially insensitive or offensive tattoos
- Homophobic or transphobic tattoos
- Gang tattoos
- Tattoos promoting or glorifying violence
- Tattoos that are generally considered socially unacceptable (such as swear words or images of rude gestures)
However, while the above is a general guideline of tattoos that may not be allowed, this is relative to the rules of each respective trucking company.
The rules are often regarding customer perspective and the reputation of and the image that a company wants to display.
Therefore, except for explicitly offensive tattoos, company policies are seldom instituted due to employer/employee relations and perspectives. This is why the placement of tattoos and when they may be displayed are essential considerations.
Tattoo Placement And Displays In The Trucking Industry
A critical factor in determining whether a trucking company will allow for tattoos on their drivers in terms of their regulations is the tattoo’s size and its placement on the body.
This is of particular importance in the event of mandated company uniforms.
Generally speaking, trucking companies are not concerned with whether their employees have tattoos (although certain employers may actively dislike them and dismiss potential hires); instead, they are concerned if the tattoos are visible.
Therefore, the placement of tattoos that are easy to cover, either with casual clothes or uniform, is overlooked in the hiring and employee retention process.
Typical areas where tattoos are acceptable are the legs, feet, torso, shoulders, and back, while difficult areas to cover such as the neck, face, hands, and in some instances, forearms may result in a breach of a company’s code of conduct.
Although there is a methodology to cover visible areas using products such as base makeup or bandages, this is impractical and likely to be considered unprofessional or contrary to the Company’s dress code.
Of course, another solution may be tattoo laser removal if they are particularly egregious and impossible to cover adequately. However, this is a permanent, expensive, and painful experience that most tattoo owners, understandably, don’t want to take.
Another consideration is when and in what settings drivers may display their tattoos. Typically speaking, while everyday work and commutes may be acceptable, some companies have policies on displaying tattoos for specific events.
These events may include meeting with clients, meeting with shareholders, formal events, media events, and specific internal affairs (disciplinary hearings or formal discussions regarding an employee’s contract with their employer).
In general, potential employees should cover any visible tattoos during job interviews and disclose to their would-be employer that they have tattoos to avoid any disciplinary or code of conduct issues once employment begins.
Furthermore, companies seldom advertise their regulations on tattoos on public forums such as websites or job sites. Therefore, it is advisable to ask a company directly before an interview or at the commencement of employment.
Truck Drivers And Tattoo Culture
While most industries have been slow to accept tattoos in the workplace, the trucking industry has a long and storied history with both the acceptance and promotion of tattoos in a professional environment.
In fact, along with styles such as naval or tribal tattoos, the trucking industry itself has been instrumental in creating its own sub-culture in the broader tattoo art community.
This further extends to the acceptance of tattoos depicting other communities from which the trucking industry attracts employees.
This means that while tattoos promoting violence may be discouraged, the depiction of military or religious tattoos is often accepted.
For an in-depth discussion on tattoos and their place in the trucking industry, as well as how to care for tattoos as a truck driver, the following link is to Driver Solutions YouTube video on “Tattoos In Trucking – Driver Solutions & PAM Transport”:
While for visualization on trucking tattoos and their impact on the tattoo industry, the following link provides imagery to Emilee Truck Blog’s Pinterest board on “45 Ideas diesel truck tattoo ideas”:
For many people, both within the trucking industry and 3rd party observers, tattoos are a celebration and recognition of the trucking industry and the unique lifestyle associated with it.
However, while there have been significant strides in Western society to accept the display of tattoos in professional environments, there remain rules and regulations which govern imagery, placement and, times of display.
While the trucking industry is one of the most accepting industries of tattoos, issues of professionalism and image remain a consideration for employers, shareholders, and clients.
Meaning that while a driver is unlikely to face discrimination for having tattoos, they must ensure they align with whatever policies their employee may have in place.