Beard Culture

Publix employees petition to free the beard

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For years, clean-shaven male employees have been asking Publix Super Markets to free the beard.

More than 17,800 people have signed a petition on Coworker.org, asking the grocer to “Let us have beards!” and are pressing their cause under the hashtag #FreetheBeard on Twitter.

Now, the Lakeland-based grocer has agreed to review its dress code policy, which guides facial hair.

“Publix has appearance guidelines for our managers and associates, as many companies do. For most stores, beards and goatees are not permitted,” a Publix spokeswoman responded in two January Twitter posts. “However, as we are constantly working to better understand what is best for our customers and associates, we are currently piloting guidelines that include allowing our male associates to wear neat, clean and professional beards and goatees in a few Publix locations. Rest assured, food safety remains our top priority, and that will not be compromised.”

The Publix dress code policy states “Males must be clean shaven — no beards or goatees allowed” and that “mustaches must be no lower than the corner of the mouth, not hang below the upper lip and be kept clean, neat and trimmed.”

The petition includes video featuring a lip-sweatered Wesley asking Publix CEO Todd Jones to change the policy. It is unclear from the petition where Wesley lives, or whether he still works for Publix. Wesley did not respond to a message left through the petition website.

“I want Publix Super Markets to review its dress code on its facial hair policy, which will also allow them to look at the other dress code policies in effect that may need modernizing (hair length, earrings policy, etc.),” says the petition drive started by Brandon Wesley. “I believe that the majority of the people I work with at Publix also believe that we should be allowed to have some facial hair besides only a mustache. We should be allowed to have a beard, with limitations on how long it can be and a beard net for the employees who work with food.”

The struggle for mouth brows and chin curtains is real.

In February, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter ruled that Miami players could have “well groomed’ facial hair this season. In 2016, there was a facial-hair ban.

Some of the Coworker.org signees explained their reasons for joining the facial-hair fight.

“I have to shave over pimples every single day. I’d rather have some hair on my face than agonize in pain and have a few cuts on my face while I’m at work,”” wrote Nicolas M. Others expressed problems with sensitive skin.

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 188,000 employees, with 2017 sales of $34 billion. It has 1,171 stores in Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia.

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