'Over The Top' Workplace Appearance Policy Made Employee Quit Her Job — But She Was Missing Teeth Due to Domestic Violence

The company has since removed what has been called a "smile policy."

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By Gabrielle Bienasz

Bloomberg / Contributor

An Ohio worker at convenience store chain Sheetz has received attention online after claiming her manager confronted her about her missing teeth, which she said were lost due to domestic violence.

"Who are they to decide what beauty is," said the worker, Rose Marie Counts, on Facebook.

Sheetz's handbook had what some employees called a "smile policy," a rule that involved smiling at customers. The handbook also said stores should not hire "applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability)," according to Insider, which also discussed the policy with former Sheetz employees.

Now, per the outlet, the company has nixed the policy — and Counts has raised almost $6,000 out of a $10,000 goal on GoFundMe to pay for dental work.

"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," said Stephanie Doliveira, executive vice president of people & culture at Sheetz, per Insider.

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

Sheetz is a chain of gas, food, and convenience stores based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, per the company's website. It has over 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 in a domestic violence situation.

"When I walked in the office... I was informed that policy states all Sheetz employees must have and remain with a perfect beautiful warm welcoming smile," she wrote in the Facebook post.

Rose also posted a video file of what she said was the conversation with her manager. Entrepreneur listened to the file but was not able to independently verify it.

In the audio, the manager discusses Counts' treatment plan for her teeth. Counts said she was unable to get coverage for temporary dentures, just permanent ones, and that the process could take up to nine months.

In the audio, the manager appears to inform her that she wouldn't be able to work in the front until they were fixed, but Counts said she is finding another job, instead.

"This company has no idea what I've been through," Counts told the manager. "I lost this front teeth because my ex-husband head-butted me because I forgot to turn the hall light out," she added.

"If my job performance is not enough and it has to be based on any part of my looks, that's not a company I want to be associated with," she added in the audio.

A Sheetz spokesperson told Insider that the manager was "newly promoted" and "handling this type of situation for the first time," and thus provided "inaccurate information."

Another employee told Insider the smile policy was "surprising" and stood out as "over the top," considering other company policies, such as medical and dental plans, as well as 12 weeks of paid time off for "mothers," per the company's website.

Sheetz has since dropped the policy, the company told Insider on Wednesday. Entrepreneur has reached out for comment.

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

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

"I politely decline the job as Sheetz no longer a safe environment for me," she wrote.

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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