Sheetz has discontinued a “smile policy” that drove a former employee of the convenience store chain to quit her job last month, Stephanie Doliveira, executive VP of people and culture at Sheetz, said Wednesday in an email to HR Dive.
The policy had drawn media attention in recent weeks after the former employee published a Jan. 9 Facebook post that included a video recording of a conversation between herself and a Sheetz manager prior to her departure. In the video, the employee is asked to provide a timeline for a procedure to have her dentures replaced. She explains that her insurance provider will not cover the cost of temporary fillings and that it will take nine months total to receive new dentures.
The discontinued policy prohibited the chain’s stores from hiring applicants with “obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability),” according to Business Insider, which reviewed a written version of the policy as part of an investigation for a January story. A Sheetz spokesperson cited by Business Insider said the company provides accommodations to its personal appearance policy for medical, cultural and religious reasons.
In the Jan. 9 video, the now-former employee stated her intention to leave Sheetz. According to a description attached to the video, the employee said Sheetz gave her 90 days to have her dental issues fixed despite the nine-month timeline given by her care providers.
“It’s frustrating,” the employee said in the video. “I mean, I was hired this way […] To be honest, I probably will seek other employment because I feel like if my job performance is not enough and it has to be based on any part of my looks, it’s not a company I want to be associated with.”
The employee explained that she is a domestic violence survivor and that her dental health issues were the result of abuse she suffered at the hands of a former spouse.
“Our culture at Sheetz has always been centered on respect and putting our employees, customers and communities first,” Doliveira said. “As a family owned and operated company, nothing is more important than creating an environment that is inclusive and supportive of all of our employees. Recently through employee feedback, we have learned that the smile policy is not aligned with these values from their perspective. We agree. Effective immediately, this policy is discontinued. We are committed to ensuring our policies moving forward are equitable and celebrate the diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives of our employees.”
The employee shared Wednesday on Facebook that Sheetz offered to continue her employment but she declined.
Appearance policies are a common feature of employer handbooks, although legislation has been the cause of changes in recent years. For example, the CROWN Act, a Congressional bill that would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin, failed to pass in 2022. But similar laws have passed in several state and local jurisdictions.