When it comes to chicken sandwiches and operating efficiency, it doesn’t get much better than Chick-fil-A. If you’re ready to work for the “Eat Mor Chikin” giant, will your beard be an issue? Probably, but change may be on the horizon.
The restaurant franchise chain Chick-Fil-A has a meticulous grooming policy. For years, beards were not allowed, with the only acceptable facial hair being a neatly trimmed mustache. In the past few years, however, beard testing has been conducted at some locations.
If you’re curious about Chick-fil-a’s employee hair policy, read on!
Are Chick-fil-A employees allowed to have facial hair, beards, or mustaches?
Working at Chick-fil-A comes with a “guest comes first” mindset. The goal is for each customer to return, so employee policy addresses situations that could be potential stumbling blocks. From words, to actions, to appearance, specific guidelines are put into place to ensure the customer is always at ease.
At most Chick-fil-A locations, beards are not allowed. Mustaches are acceptable if they are kept short and do not extend beyond the corners of the mouth.
As with all rules, some managers may allow them to be stretched. However, Chick-fil-A as a whole looks to toe the leadership’s line. As recent as January 1, 2021, the company’s appearance policy was amended slightly to offer independent franchisees the discretion to “permit or continue to prohibit facial hair.”
Do you have to shave your beard to work at Chick-fil-A?
What if you overslept for the opening shift or you’re closing tonight and have some scruff showing by dinner time? Most locations have a “no excuses” policy. Even if you’re busy or just blessed with quick-growing whiskers, being clean-shaven is non-negotiable.
Most Chick-Fil-A employee manuals do have strict clean-shaven guidelines. If you arrive at work with facial hair other than a mustache, the guidelines state that team members in violation must either go buy a razor and shave before clocking in or be sent home.
Current employees state that their managers often keep razors in the office so busy 5 o’clock shadowed employees can get in a quick shave before going on duty.
Can you have a beard when working with food?
Just because one restaurant chain has a strict no-beard policy doesn’t mean they all do. There are plenty of food establishments employing men with facial hair.
Local health codes dictate whether beards are allowed when working with food. These codes can vary by city and state. If beards are allowed, these codes outline food safety and protection guidelines.
If health codes allow for facial hair, individual restaurants can still make their own policies. It’s possible to even have variations of policy across franchise locations in the same city since the views and preferences of operators can be different.
Do you have to wear a beard net at Chick-fil-A?
While beard nets aren’t the most fashion-forward accessory, it seems that Chick-fil-A management demands the beard be covered while on shift.
In Chick-fil-A restaurants where beard testing has occurred, beard nets were required. If a male employee is allowed to have a beard for religious reasons, a beard net is also necessary according to written policy.
Beard nets provide a barrier between whiskers and food. Most food establishments have written policies that “require” them to be used when prepping or cooking food, but often the rules aren’t enforced. Chick-fil-A appears to follow through with this requirement.
Official Chick-fil-A facial hair policy in 2022
Chick-fil-A considers the employee’s image to be part of the overall success of the brand. This is why they have an extensive list of grooming and appearance standards.
Chick-fil-A’s official facial hair policy requires male employees to be clean-shaven while working. A half-inch, neatly trimmed mustache is allowed, but beards and extreme sideburns are prohibited. Last year they granted operators the autonomy to make final appearance-related decisions.
Conservative is the name of the game with extremes of any kind being frowned upon. This rule applies not only to facial hair but hairstyles, hair color, makeup, clothing, and nails. If you want to show off your edginess and individuality, you’ll have to do it on your own time.
Can you be fired for growing a beard at Chick-fil-A?
If interviewing for Chick-fil-A with a beard, ask about their beard policy if hired. Be prepared to hear that you’ll need to shave if you get the job.
Since Chick-Fil-A policy prohibits beards, you can be fired for growing a beard if you do not have a proper exemption. Most employee handbooks include a “shave or go home” clause.
Chick-fil-A’s employment handbook outlines the reasons for termination. Among these are a bad attitude and unsatisfactory conduct. Failing to adhere to set policies would fall into these categories.
Does facial hair policy vary at different Chick-fil-A locations?
With close to 3,000 locations across the U.S., does the facial hair policy have any wiggle room? The answer appears to be yes.
While the overarching corporate policy seems to restrict facial hair to only well-trimmed mustaches, employees from certain locations report that short, trimmed beards are acceptable.
A look at employment message boards sees a range of beard policies. The majority of locations still seem to hold to the “no beard” guideline, but others report an “as long as it’s covered by a mask, it’s ok” or “my manager allows close trimmed beards.”
This variation could be a glimpse of policy change to come. Chick-fil-A once had a firm “no visible tattoo” policy, but it has since changed the official stance. Some operators still require them to be covered, while others allow them to be visible. I found one California location that expressly allows goatees and beards as long as the cheek and neck areas are clearly defined.
In 2016, a Chick-fil-A employee began a nationwide petition in the hopes of getting the facial hair policy changed to allow beards. No broad pronouncements have been made as yet, but employees report “beard testing” has been conducted at their locations.
The Publix supermarket chain changed its staunch beard policy after a similar petition drew over 20,000 votes. It looks like miracles do indeed happen when enough pressure and persistence are applied.
Are there exemptions for beards and mustaches at Chick-fil-A?
Equal opportunity employers like Chick-fil-A have to walk a fine line between their appearance and safety requirements and the law.
Employee policy manuals make beard allowances for religious beliefs as long as the employee wears a beard net. Medical exemptions for beards do not appear to be granted.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Facial hair can be an expression of one’s religion or nationality and Chick-fil-A recognizes this.
Religious or cultural beliefs
Beards are considered a symbol of faith for some religions. Practicing Muslims and those of the Sikh faith are often granted beard exemptions in the workplace.
Chick-fil-A does recognize and offer reasonable accommodations for beards grown for religious or cultural reasons. Documentation is required and it must go through the appropriate channels in order to be approved.
While beard accommodations are often made, health and safety precautions are still enforced. Employees are required to keep their beards clean, trimmed, and covered.
Many men struggle with painful skin conditions like pseudofolliculitis barbae. This condition, which predominantly affects men of color, is often irritated by shaving and can lead to infection and scarring.
Currently, beard exemptions for medical conditions are not granted often, if at all, by Chick-fil-A.
A perusal of employment boards finds a lack of flexibility in this area. As recent as 2018, one employee stated the refusal of his Chick-fil-A management to grant a beard exemption due to pseudofolliculitis barbae.
On the other hand, there seems to be optimism from some that rules will change. Many say that the post-2020 atmosphere has taken a more relaxed turn and that regional beard pilot programs hint at greater variability across locations.