- Sheetz says it’s reviewing a policy against hiring people with dental problems.
- The policy states that Sheetz cannot hire people with “missing, broken, or badly stained teeth.”
- One employee described the policy as “really disgusting and kind of neo-classical.”
Sheetz says it is reviewing a policy that would prohibit its convenience stores and gas stations from hiring people with visible dental problems.
Like all retail associates, employees at Sheetz are expected to be on time and provide pleasant customer service. But a more unusual policy in the company’s employee handbook states that “Applicants with apparent missing, broken, or severely discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment at Sheetz.” Insider received a written version of the policy and endorsed it three former employees who had or have access to it. The policy will be reviewed following an Insider request.
“Your request has prompted a closer review to ensure our policies are consistent with Sheetz’s commitment to fostering a culture of respect,” said Nick Ruffner, public relations manager at Sheetz. Based in Pennsylvania, the company has approximately 650 locations.
“While we have a personal appearance policy that includes dental health, we do offer policy accommodations that are granted for medical, cultural and religious reasons,” Ruffner said. “At Sheetz, it is important that we honor and recognize the diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives of our employees.”
Sheetz’s “smile policy” is aimed at the store’s predominantly working-class workforce, employees say
Three former employees told Insider they believe hiring decisions are made based on the appearance of applicants’ teeth. Some employees refer to the rule as the “smile policy.”
“I hate politics,” said a former employee in North Carolina. This person, who worked for Sheetz for several years before leaving last year, declined to speak on the files for fear of professional repercussions.
“It’s really gross and kind of classy, especially when the majority of the people you hire are going to have lower incomes,” the former employee said.
While employers may impose dress codes and appearance requirements on employees, federal and state laws prohibit policies that discriminate against certain groups. For example, a 2019 California law called the CROWN Act banned employers from creating policies against people with natural hairstyles like afros and braids. Similar laws have since been passed in other states.
Sheetz’s policy includes a section for current employees who don’t meet the smile standard. “The time frame for resolution of such issues should not normally exceed 90 days,” the manual states.
“In the event that a current employee develops a dental problem that would limit their ability to display a comfortable, full and complete smile, we cannot allow this situation to continue indefinitely,” it said. “In such cases, the employee and store management, with the involvement of the district manager and employee relations where appropriate, will work to find an amicable solution.”
It adds, “Sheetz believes that a staff member’s smile while interacting with customers and colleagues is critical to creating the sense of hospitality in our stores that we aspire to.”
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