Sheetz ends ‘smile policy’ immediately
SHALER, Pa. (KDKA) – Sheetz’s so-called “smile policy” is coming to an end.
The Sheetz employee handbook previously stated that applicants with “apparently missing, broken or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment at Sheetz.”
According to the company, the policy will be scrapped, but it will still leave an impact on those already affected.
It was the start of the new year, and Rose Counts had just started a new job at a Sheetz store in Circleville, Ohio, when she was brought into work and found out about a policy with the company.
“I felt very uncomfortable. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin at all and I just wanted to get out,” Counts said. “He informed me that he should never have hired me.”
The policy was the so-called “smile policy,” which stated that employees must have all their teeth intact.
About 20 years ago, Graf’s front teeth were damaged in a domestic incident with an ex. She said that when Sheetz hired her, the company knew she had to take time off to get them repaired.
“I’ve been told ‘no problem’ that they take pride in making sure their employees are healthy,” Counts said.
But then came the day Sheetz briefed her on the policy and told her she had to fill out a bunch of paperwork for HR.
“I felt very down after the interview,” Counts said.
Counts decided it wasn’t worth it and resigned a week later. Last month, Sheetz said it would “review” the policy, saying in part:
“Throughout our history to date, we have committed to an appearance policy because we know how important a smile is to the customer experience when serving hospitality. However, we constantly review our policies to ensure they best meet our values and commitment to our customers and employees. As such, this appearance policy will continue to be reviewed.”
Some people in the Pittsburgh community don’t believe the policy sent the right message.
“It’s judgmental. It’s like not letting someone work there because you don’t like the color of their hair or their skin color or anything else,” said Allison Park’s Lisa Lombardo.
“I think you should be judged by your work, not by your looks, not by your looks,” said Glenshaw’s Mary Jo Duderstadt.
On Wednesday, Counts received a call from Sheetz saying it would reinstate her and pay for her dental work. Counts thanked him and declined the offer. She has another job offer and a dentist willing to fix her teeth in New York.
Meanwhile, Sheetz said it is ending the “smile policy” immediately, according to a statement.
“Our culture at Sheetz has always been one of respect and a focus on our employees, customers and communities. As a family business, nothing is more important than creating an environment that includes and supports all of our employees. Recently, through employee feedback, we have learned that they believe the smile policy does not align with these values. We agree. This policy is retiring effective immediately. We are committed to ensuring our policies for the future are fair and honor the diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives of our employees.”
Counts is happy to have been a part of this change and hopes for others who look like her.
“It makes me feel like it wasn’t in Vane,” Counts said.