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Company appearance policy forces victim of violence to quit job

by Ana Lopez
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An Ohio employee at Sheetz convenience store chain has gained online attention after claiming that her manager confronted her about her missing teeth, which she said were lost to domestic violence.

“Who are they to decide what beauty is,” the contributor, Rose Marie Counts, said on Facebook.

The Sheetz handbook contained what some employees called a “smile policy,” a rule that required smiling at customers. The handbook also said shops should not accept “applicants with obvious missing, broken or severely discolored teeth (not related to disability)”. according to Insiderswho also discussed the policy with former Sheetz employees.

Now, according to the outlet, the company has rejected the policy — and Counts raised nearly $6,000 of a $10,000 goal GoFundMe to pay for dental work.

“Effective immediately, this policy is discontinued… We are committed to ensuring that our future policies are fair and celebrate our employees’ diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives,” said Stephanie Doliveira, executive vice president of people & culture at Sheetz , per insider.

Counts said in early January that she had started working at Sheetz in Circleville, Ohio, about a month before the incident.

Sheetz is a chain of gas, food and supermarket based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, according to the company’s website. It has more than 600 stores in states including Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Counts posted on Facebook on January 9 that her manager had brought her in to discuss her teeth, which she said were damaged from a domestic violence situation.

“Walking into the office… I was told that it is policy for all Sheetz employees to have and maintain a perfectly beautiful, warm welcoming smile,” she wrote in the Facebook post.

Rose also posted a video file of what she believes was the conversation with her manager. businessroundups.org listened to the file, but could not independently verify it.

In the audio, the manager discusses Counts’ treatment plan for her teeth. Counts said she couldn’t get coverage for temporary dentures, only permanent dentures, and the process could take up to nine months.

The manager appears in the audio told her she wouldn’t be able to work up front until they were fixed, but Counts said she’s looking for another job instead.

“This company has no idea what I’ve been through,” Counts told the manager. “I lost these front teeth because my ex-husband headbutted me for forgetting to turn off the hall light,” she added.

“If my job performance isn’t enough and it has to be based on some part of my appearance, that’s not a company I want to be associated with,” she added in the audio.

That says a spokesperson for Sheetz Insider that the manager was “newly promoted” and was “handling this kind of situation for the first time”, thus providing “inaccurate information”.

Another employee told me Insider the smile policy was “surprising” and stood out as “over the top,” given other company policies, such as medical and dental plans, as well as 12 weeks of paid leave for “mothers,” according to the company’s website.

Sheetz has since dropped the policy, the company said Insider on Wednesday. businessroundups.org has asked for comment.

Adaline Adams, a woman claiming to be Counts’ daughter, posted a GoFundMe to raise money for her dental treatment. At the time of writing, the fund has raised $5,824 of a $10,000 goal.

In a follow-up Facebook post, Counts said she’s been in touch with Sheetz, who offered to give her her job back and pay for her dental work if she wanted to come back.

“I politely decline the job because Sheetz is no longer a safe environment for me,” she wrote.

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