Man says Republic denied him interview because of tattoos

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A Florida man who claims Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. denied him a job interview because of his tattoos can proceed with a civil rights complaint against the company, the Indiana Civil Rights Commission said Wednesday.

An investigation by the commission following a May complaint from Christopher Brooks found that he was qualified for a flight attendant job but was denied an interview by Republic because of the tattoos on his forearms.

“The issue before the commission is whether the alleging party was denied an interview based on his gender,” ICRC Deputy Director Akia Haynes said in a prepared statement. “Records show that female employees were permitted to sign a waiver indicating they would agree to conceal their tattoos.  However, the alleging party was informed he was not eligible to sign this waiver.”

Republic spokesman Peter Kowalchuk said the company doesn’t comment on matters that might involve litigation.

A finding of probable cause means the commission has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined enough evidence exists to move forward with a civil right complaint, the commission said.

Brooks, 28, of Pensacola, said his case has been assigned to an attorney with the state and that he is awaiting his options. In the meantime, he is set to begin flight attendant training in April for another airline, Brooks said.

The state’s civil rights law provides remedies to violations, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.



  • Dress code?
    Perhaps the reason he wasn't offered the opportunity to cover his forearms is their dress code requires short sleeve shirts for men while women can wear long sleeves? That is not discrimatory in my opinion.
  • Discrimination?
    The only discrimination here is that the male candidate was not offered the same coverup option as women. Rejecting a job applicant because of tattoes, piercings, or revealing clothing is not discrimination: a person can exercise their "right of expression" to have stretched earlobes and pants below their tokus, and a prospective employer can exercise their right of employment by deciding that person is not presentable in their workplace. If you write a book or screenplay and no publisher or producer wants it, this isn't censorship. It also isn't a violation of anyone's freedom of expression if you don't hire the person that doesn't fit the requirements. Which is why you don't see obese women working in Victoria's Secret.
  • Appearance
    I understand that the suit is discrimination. I would like to add my opinion in response to the other comments made. As an HR Manager in a hospitality environment, I do look at appearance. Tattoos are a personal choice and what they are and where they are put are also a personal choice. When people walk around with their pants below their butts that is a personal choice, when people don’t care to brush their teeth, wash their clothes, wash/comb their hair, etc. that also is a personal choice. However, everyone does not have to accept your “personal choice”. To earn respect, you have to be respectable. Apply for the position that you best fit into. I would much rather go to a business with neat, clean “normal” looking people than one with people who have 2” holes in their ears, tattoos on their arms and faces, their butt above their waistband, who choose not to shave, groom or clean themselves. Just because you choose to be that way, do not expect everyone else to choose to accept that. Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.
  • Employer's Rights?!
    Shouldn't an employer be allowed to require a dress code to maintain how they appear to their clients? I hate seeing tattoos on professionals, as well as any sort of body piercing, i.e. eyebrow, nose, and toungue. It makes me question what type of establishment I'm visiting. It's sad that this will qualify as a Civil Rights case and waste alot of time and money. Choose another employer if you don't like the standards of the one your are interviewing with.
  • Confused
    I'm confused why he didn't wear long sleeves to apply in the first place.
  • ink police
    I bet that if the guy would have acted gay, He would be employed now. The P.C. police would have been OK with the tats then.
  • Dictators
    The clothing and personal appearance Gestapo have spoken. And don't they just look so fine in their shiny black boots. Sad when other people can dictate how a free person in the U.S.A. is NOT free to his or her personal expression of beauty or very personal appearance. No I don't agree that this expression is always a look I would personally choose but this is up to the individual and as long as their adornments do not inter fear with the job they are required to do and the person is qualified to perform the duties required of them this is a violation of our right to free speech. Whats next?? no lipstick, no too pay, no bot-ox, no breast implants? And the potential list goes on and on, and when you find you are in violation of their very long list of no nos you will also feel the sting of the enforcement of rules you deem intrusive. When they click their heals and tell you that you are no longer employed just remember how you thought that discrimination against someone else was a great idea as long as it is someone else NOT you. And till then those fine store bought hooters were your pride and joy
  • the waiver is key
    Be sure to read the article in its entirety! He wasn't refused an interview simply because he had tattoos; he claims he didn't get the interview because he didn't get the waiver that females receive indicating that their tattoos must be covered. I completely understand why the airline wouldn't want his tattoos visible, so should he be subject to the same mandatory concealment as the women? Shouldn't be a problem, since men by and large are expected to show far less skin in the workplace than women.
  • too bad for them!
    They made the decision to get the tattoo's in the first place. This is not a natural deformity or disability, it was a choice. This would relate to any dress/appearance code for an employer. If the plaintiff doesn't like it, then they can have the tattoo's removed and reapply when they comply with the rules of the airline. The airline should counter-sue for the frivolous charge.
  • Personal
    Tattoos are a personal lifestyle decision. Something as simple to conceal as a forearm tattoo should never be a barrier to employment.
  • Good!
    Good! There need to be consequences for bad decisions. Tattoos are unprofessional, so don't be surprised when they hurt your career.

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