Sheetz is dropping its controversial 'smile policy' after employees spoke up

Lizzy McLellan Ravitch, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

Sheetz, the Pennsylvania-born convenience store chain, is getting rid of an appearance rule governing employees' dental health.

Known as the "smile policy," the now-scrapped rule stated that "applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment with Sheetz." It had also stated that existing employees who had visible dental problems would be expected to resolve them within roughly 90 days.

The company said the rule was under review last month after business news site Insider made inquiries about it. Stephanie Doliveira, Sheetz's executive vice president of people and culture, said in a statement Wednesday that the policy had been discontinued effective immediately.

"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," Doliveira said. "Recently through employee feedback, we have learned that the smile policy is not aligned with these values from their perspective. We agree."



A Philadelphia employment lawyer, Eric Meyer, of law firm FisherBroyles, said last month that the policy was "unusual and problematic."

"Even taking into account the carve-out for people with disabilities ... it could have the impact of discriminating against certain protected classes," Meyer said. "There may be particular protected classes that have less access to a dentist."

Sheetz, a family-owned chain based in Altoona, Pa., operates 669 stores throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and North Carolina, and employs more than 23,500 people, according to the company's website.

There are about 300 Sheetz locations in Pennsylvania, but none in Philadelphia. The closest locations to the city are in Morgantown and Reading, Pa., about 40 miles away.

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