Tattoos at work: what is allowed?

Around 20 percent of Germans are tattooed and there are more and more works of art that often adorn entire body parts.

More and more you cover body parts, which are visible in short tops. However, there are occupational groups where this is not so popular. So it is already a requirement to have no visible tattoos, z. B. if you want to work as a flight attendant, banker or police officer. If the tattoo is covered under the uniform, it is accepted in the countries and the federal government.

Tattoo as refusal reason in the police service
However, as the case of the Administrative Court (VG) Dusseldorf (judgment v. 08.05.2018, Az .: 2 K 15637/17) shows, tattoos still provide for discussion and dispute. It was decided that a candidate for the police service who wore a large lion’s head on his forearm (20 x 14 cm) should not be refused. The plaintiff had applied in North Rhine-Westphalia for employment in the police service. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has not rejected him because of the motive, but one saw the authority endangered by the tattoo.

Lack of suitability due to decree
This decision was made on the basis of a decree of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of the Interior, according to which large-area tattoos in the visible area represent an absolute lack of suitability of the applicant. The visible part is the part that can be seen wearing a summer uniform. These are z. B. the forearms. Tattoos that exceed the average size of a palm are inadmissible on these body parts, regardless of the subject.

Social change should be accepted
The applicant then filed an application for interim relief before the 2nd Chamber of the VG Dusseldorf, so that the decision was taken as soon as possible (order of 24.08.2017, file no .: 2 L 3279/17). Here, attention was drawn to the social change and to the fact that a tattoo per se should not be an exclusion criterion. Thus, the Administrative Court contradicts the decree of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Interior and indicates as another reason that the population would trust a police officer with tattoo no less than one without. Big tattoos are increasingly seen and should not be an obstacle especially for young applicants. Thus, the applicant was admitted to the further competition.

Violent motives are unlawful
It is different with violence glorifying motives. These still constitute a ground for refusal (Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG), judgment of 17.11.2017, ref .: 2 C 25/17).
Whoever chooses an unconstitutional content as a motive, expresses an attitude against the constitutional order and is not acceptable for a civil servant relationship.

Tattoo is not the same as tattoo
For the rejection of the applicant, it lacks a legal authorization, only the decree is not enough. Thus, the individual case must always be decided and the interaction between tattoo and behavior be considered. But a big tattoo is not enough as a reason for refusal.