An Ohio woman claims she lost her job at a Sheetz convenience store because her teeth violated its “smile policy” — after her abusive ex-husband knocked them out.
Rose Marie Counts detailed in a Facebook post how she left work in Circleville “crying” after being called in by her boss over her busted-up teeth.
“I was informed that policy states all Sheetz employees must have and remain with a perfect beautiful warm welcoming smile,” she wrote.
“The company defines my smile as unbeautiful because I still have work that needs to be done on them,” she wrote, saying that her insurance would not pay for temporary dentures while she awaits permanent ones.
So “even though I am good at my job I can no longer be a frontline employee with the company because of my smile,” she said.
Counts included audio of the meeting that showed her explaining her heartbreaking backstory to her boss.
“This company has no idea what I’ve been through. I lost these front teeth because my ex-husband headbutted me because I forgot to turn the hall light out,” said Counts, who is now a new relationship.
“It’s legit, it’s a bad experience that happened in my life that I’m still trying to …” she said, trailing off from the painful recollection.
After a pause, her manager said “that’s fine” — while making clear she would not be returning to work the register, despite the manager saying she had heard “wonderful things” about her from customers.
The manager could only say she was “so sorry” when Couts told her that she would have to “seek other employment” because of the apparent discrimination.
“I feel like my job performance should be enough — I don’t feel like I should have to justify myself because of my looks,” the audio caught her telling her boss.
When she said it made Sheetz a company she no longer wanted to be “associated with,” the manager replied: “That’s understandable.”
“I really am sorry that that’s the way you feel about us,” the manager said, having earlier admitted that she’d “had other similar conversations” with employees “that didn’t go so well.”
Couts wrote that she left “crying” because she felt forced to leave a “job that I loved.”
“I will not spend one red penny at Sheetz!!!” she wrote.
“This is in my opinion one of the biggest forms of discrimination that there can be. Who are they to decide what beauty is. So I leave this job feeling like I’m not good enough again,” she said.
Sheetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Counts’ claims.
However, a rep recently told Insider that it was reviewing the so-called “smile policy” after complaints from other staff in its 650 stores, which are also in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.
The outlet obtained a copy of the employee handbook that says that “applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment with Sheetz.”
“Sheetz believes that an employee’s smile during interactions with customers and coworkers is critical to creating the sense of hospitality in our stores that we strive for,” the policy states.
“I hate the policy,” one former North Carolina staffer who quit over the policy told Insider.
“It’s really disgusting and kind of classist, especially when the majority of people you’re employing are going to be lower-income,” the former employee said.
Sheetz PR manager, Nick Ruffner, told the outlet that the story “has prompted a more specific review to ensure our policies are aligned with Sheetz’s commitment to foster a culture of respect.”
“While we have a personal appearance policy that includes dental health, we provide accommodations to the policy that are granted for medical, cultural, and religious reasons,” Ruffner said.
“At Sheetz, it is important that we honor and recognize our employees’ diverse experiences, individual identities, and unique perspectives.”
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