Can You Have a Beard at McDonald’s? (Facial Hair Policies in 2022)

Facial hair may look attractive, but it’s not very appetizing. If you’re looking for employment at the world’s largest fast-food chain, can you bring your long beard to work with you? Unfortunately, the answer is no. However, you may be able to compromise and still keep some scruff.

You cannot have a full beard and work at McDonald’s. Their corporate grooming policy explicitly prohibits beards but does allow for some facial hair like goatees, mustaches, and sideburns.

To learn more about McDonald’s facial hair policy, read on!

Are McDonald’s employees allowed to have facial hair, beards, or mustaches?

When trying to figure out the ins and outs of facial hair and employment, things can get complicated. Add in an international company with more than 13,000 locations in the United States alone and things get even more complicated. With this many workers, are McDonald’s employees allowed to have beards?

Many McDonald’s employees are allowed to have minimal facial hair, goatee-style beards, and well-trimmed mustaches. However, some individual restaurants can forbid facial hair of any kind.

Some investigation work will be necessary to find out if a certain McDonald’s location is a good fit for your beard style. While I will attempt to provide an overview of McDonald’s general standards, you’ll need to contact the specific McDonald’s franchise or restaurant in question to know for sure.

Do you have to shave your beard to work at McDonald’s?

The latest corporate policy I can locate does allow for minimal facial hair as long as it is clean and groomed.

Since McDonald’s latest grooming policy allows for goatee-style beards, chances are you won’t have to be completely clean-shaven to work there. However, individual franchise owners can make adjustments to the policy. 

In 2016, a prospective maintenance employee was refused employment because he wouldn’t shave his beard. The Florida franchise’s grooming policy required their workers to be clean-shaven. As a Hasidic Jew, his religion required him to grow a beard. The Equal Employee Opportunity Commission sued the franchise in 2019 and settled for more than $69,000.

Can you have a beard when working with food?

Beards can present a hairy predicament when it comes to food service. When hygiene is of prime importance, mitigating stray hairs from falling into food is crucial. No one wants to find beard hair in their Big Mac.

Different food establishments have different rules concerning beards. Local health agencies typically set the regulations and these can vary across locations. Restaurant owners and operators use the regulations and their own preferences when determining facial hair policy.

As with most rules, enforcement can vary. Some restaurants eliminate the chance of a hair crisis by forbidding facial hair altogether. Other restaurants make allowances as long as it’s short and well-maintained. 

Do you have to wear a beard net at McDonald’s?

While they’re not very comfortable or attractive, beard nets are sometimes required to be worn when working with food. 

Beard nets are recommended when working in the grill area at McDonald’s. However, many employees report not having beard nets available or this rule not being enforced.

Beard nets, or snoods, as some refer to them, aren’t high on anyone’s fashion list. They are made of a webby, petroleum-filled material that covers the beard while looped around the ears. The purpose is to stop beard hairs from falling into your burger or fries. 

While the hair avoidance concept is admirable, most men despise them. As a result, compliance is slack at best. Current employees say they are told to wear them when working the grill, but not everyone does.

There are even reports of employees with full beards due to religious beliefs being told beard nets aren’t available at their location. 

Fun (or Gross) Fact: Studies show that men’s beard hairs contain more bacteria than a dog’s neck fur. 

Official McDonald’s facial hair policy in 2022

Tracking down a recent McDonald’s facial hair policy isn’t as easy as it sounds. The corporate hiring and employment policy is not publically available. While it is possible to find some employee handbooks for specific franchises online, they are not necessarily up to date. For example, this is the most recent handbook I could find, and it was last updated in 2015 and the restaurant in question has closed.

Barring official sources, a great way to check out the beard culture climate at a workplace is to take a quick look at the website. The McDonald’s website features pictures of men with light scruff, trimmed mustaches, and goatees. It is safe to assume that these are acceptable at most locations. 

Looking at different franchise employee handbooks, guidelines include:

  • goatees must be neatly trimmed
  • mustaches must not go past lips
  • sideburns must not go past earlobes
  • men are requested to shave as often as necessary to present a clean-shaven appearance

Bottom line – there’s no simple answer. To find a definitive answer check with the management at your desired location.

Can you be fired for growing a beard at McDonald’s?

If interviewing for a job at your local McDonald’s, the best thing to do is ask about their beard policy. This can avoid a sticky situation in the future. 

There have been instances where employees were fired or not hired for having a beard. If the local McDonald’s grooming policy forbids facial hair, you could be written up or terminated for non-compliance.

In 2015, an employee had a full beard when hired. During orientation, one manager told him he would have to shave, while another said it would be ok to keep it. Growing a beard was a necessary part of his Muslim religion. When he showed up for work the first day, he was told to go home and shave. He refused and wasn’t allowed to return until he had complied. He asked for a beard net as a compromise but was told they didn’t provide them.

Does facial hair policy vary at different McDonald’s locations?

Sometimes official policy is merely a suggestion. In the end, franchise owners have the autonomy to make their own local policies. 

Facial hair policies do vary at different McDonald’s locations. Even though it appears corporate is on board with minimal facial hair, many managers and franchise owners are not.

Discussions on employee job boards are almost evenly split on the issue. Some say “no facial hair is allowed” at their location while others report “yes, as long as it stays trimmed.” Another respondent said, “Yes, it’s allowed unless the local management says otherwise.”

An Indiana franchise states no beards or goatees are allowed, while a Texas franchise allows a goatee. Geographical location and demographics can affect beard policies.

Are there exemptions for beards and mustaches at McDonald’s? 

Even if a franchise owner is opposed to beards, mustaches, and the like, he still has to abide by equal opportunity laws.

According to McDonald’s grooming policy, reasonable accommodations to the grooming policy can be made due to religious or medical reasons. 

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.

Religious or cultural beliefs

The 2015 firing case mentioned above brought to light the need to be in compliance with anti-discrimination laws. McDonald’s corporate ultimately reached out to offer the Muslim employee a beard net while allowing him to keep his beard, however, he chose not to continue employment. 

McDonald’s 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.

Even on the strictest franchise grooming policies, this disclosure is added.

Medical reasons

Skin conditions like pseudofolliculitis barbae can cause painful, inflamed sores to occur after shaving. Those plagued with these medical problems can still be employed even if the facial hair policy limits facial hair.

McDonald’s does allow reasonable accommodations for facial hair growth for employees suffering from certain medical conditions. Medical verification is required for approval.

Offering exemptions and being reasonable can save employers big money in the long run.