NEW YORK (WABC) – The New York City Council is proposing a bill to ban discrimination against people with tattoos, both in the workplace and in housing rentals.

If passed, tattoos would join race, gender, age and sexual orientation as protected categories.

Stephanie Ray works as an accountant for a large international firm and got her fifth tattoo on Thursday. Doing so is not recommended, especially for customer-facing employees.

“When we’re meeting with a director for a client, I always wear long-sleeved shirts,” Ray said. “I’m concerned about the perception it creates, 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 big mark in New York.

The first bill of its kind would ban discrimination based on tattoos. This applies to employees and providers of services and accommodation.

Councilman Sean Abreu is a co-author.

“We need to focus on merit-based jobs, can you do the job, if the answer is you can do the job that matters if you have a tattoo,” Abreu said.

The folks at Inked Magazine say there’s been a major shift with an increase in people asking for tattoos on their arms, necks and faces, which at one point was considered a so-called barrier to employment.

“All the reality shows brought it into every home and it made tattoos less scary,” said Charlie Connell of Inked Magazine.

The proposed law would not protect tattoos that contain hate speech or symbols associated with racism.

But experts warn: know your audience – 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 subconscious connection or disconnect with that tattoo,” said workplace expert Stephen Viscusi.

READ ALSO | Long Island restaurant owner owes workers thousands of dollars in back wages, New York state says


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