Publix store managers may soon have to deal with some hairy issues. On Friday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that an employee of Publix Super Markets, Inc., commonly known as Publix, had begun an online petition entitled “Let us have beards!” on a social media petition site, Coworker.org. The petition, started four days ago by a 19-year-old Publix clerk named Brandon Wesley, who works at a store in Tallahassee, is simple and direct, and already has garnered almost 6,000 signatures.
In the petition, Mr. Wesley poses this question, “Publix already allows beards at its new GreenWise markets and it has been successful, so why not implement this new dress code policy in the overwhelming majority of its business?”
Many people who have signed the petition agree. Francisco C. says, “It would be great to have more personal freedom while employed for a wonderful company.” Shawn M. agrees, saying he signed because “it is a waste of money for some of us that have to shave every morning. Not only that if other company’s like Disneyland approve of beards why not us?”
And Shawn has a point. WESH2 reported in 2012 that, though the guidelines for Disney cast members are strict at the park, men may grow beards and goatees. However, they can be no longer than a quarter of an inch, and they must be well-groomed. At that time, a Disney spokesperson said that the change was one that many employees had asked for, and Disney management complied.
Publix does allow employees to grow moustaches, but Wesley believes that loosening their restrictions on visible facial hair below the bottom lip might encourage the Supermarket to review other dress code policies in effect, such as policies on hair length and earrings.
Wesley states in his petition, that, “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.” It is unknown how many signatures are needed to induce Publix to change their stand on whiskers. Publix is an employee-owned, American supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida. It operates throughout the Southeast, with locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Publix employs over 168,000 people. The chain has garnered a variety of local, regional, national and philanthropic awards.
There are indications that Publix does respond to requests for change by their employees, to keep up with changing times and attitudes. In December, 2014, it was reported that gay and lesbian couples who work at the Supermarket and are legally married, in states that recognize those marriages, became eligible for group health and other insurance.