Earlier this year, 21 year old Chontelle McGoldrick applied for jobs with Qantas and Emirates, hoping to join either of their respective cabin crews. But McGoldrick's dreams were shattered when she was knocked back by both airlines because of a small tattoo on the inside of her right ankle.
McGoldrick got the tattoo (an anchor), which is about the size of a ten cent piece, when she was 18. She is now in the process of having it removed, News.com.au reported.
"Both airlines said they wanted to offer me a position but they couldn’t, because of my tattoo," McGoldrick claimed.
"They said some cultures and religions find them offensive, so I was told to come back when it’s completely gone and there can’t be any scarring or marks.
"The airlines said getting it removed would make it easier for me to get the job in the future, because I’m already on their records."
While Qantas and Emirates confirmed that in-flight staff cannot have visible tattoos, a spokesperson for the Fair Work Ombudsman told News that employers are entitled to ban tattoos in the workplace and can even dismiss the job applicant because of their tattoo.
“Physical appearance is not a protected attribute under the Fair Work Act,” they said.
However, the Australian Human Rights Commission says that while employers may be allowed to set rules regarding workplace appearance, they must ensure that these rules do not amount to discrimination.
According to a 2012 study from the National Health and Medical Research Council, one in seven Australians has a tattoo, with a third of these regretting getting inked and one in seven considering their tattoos' removal.