Virtually every restaurant has an appearance policy of some sort, although some may be more lenient than others. Where does Taco Bell fall in regards to beards and facial hair?
While Taco Bell is a restaurant franchise, there is a corporate image policy that must be followed. This policy typically requires that employees wear clean uniforms, limit jewelry and makeup, and be clean-cut overall. Specific franchise, state, or local policies may restrict facial hair or require a beard net to be worn in food preparation areas.
Read on to learn more about facial hair, appearance policies, and health standards at Taco Bell and the fast food industry.
Are you allowed to have a beard or mustache at Taco Bell?
Have you ever gone into a Taco Bell and seen one of the food preparation workers sporting a beard or mustache? Did you wonder if that was okay? If so, the answer is…maybe.
Whether or not you are allowed to have a beard or mustache while working at Taco Bell is determined by the specific location at which you’re employed. While Taco Bell Corporate maintains an overall appearance standard, the franchise owner will set the specific requirements for the restaurant. State and local ordinances may also affect the allowance of facial hair. The employees will be expected to abide by the most strict of the applicable policies.
Overall, quick-service restaurants typically require employees to be clean-shaven, although some allow for neat mustaches or sideburns. Both long hair and beards can pose a sanitation hazard when working with food, either because of physical contamination (hairs in the food) or biological (hands touching hair touching food).
Of course, there are legal exemptions to these policies. If you have a medical or religious reason for needing a beard, it is worth discussing with management or human resources. Keep in mind that your exemption will almost certainly require you to wear a hair/beard net while working with food.
Taco Bell facial hair policy
Taco Bell’s corporate policy is not readily available to the public, but there are some assumptions that we can make based on standard foodservice and quick-casual restaurant practices.
Every Taco Bell restaurant will require its employees to present a high standard of appearance. This includes, but is not limited to, clean and neat uniforms, minimal makeup and tattoos, and well-groomed head and facial hair. Chances are, your local Taco Bell will require employees to be clean-shaven, although there are exceptions to this.
K-MAC Enterprises, the largest operator of Taco Bell franchises, includes this in its 2015 employee handbook: “Men need to look clean and shaven. Keep sideburns short and mustaches clean and neatly trimmed. Beards and goatees are not allowed.”
Beard policy in food service
While beard restrictions at Taco Bell and other restaurants may seem like outdated appearance standards, they are actually tied directly to food safety.
Hair – both head and facial – can act as both a biological and physical contaminant if it ends up in someone’s food. The physical contamination part is obvious – there’s a hair in the food – but the biological contamination could actually prove more harmful. Hair that is carrying any sort of bacteria can cause foodborne illness and make customers (especially those who are elderly, pregnant, or immuno-compromised) sick.
Because of the risk of food contamination, food service employees, especially those who deal directly with food preparation, are typically required to be clean-shaven or wear restraints such as hats or hairnets and beard nets to limit the potential hazards.
Often popular restaurant chains will go above and beyond to prevent health code violations. More often restaurants want to improve public image and having “clean-cut” professional staff puts the patrons more at ease.
Servers and bartenders are not usually bound to the same policies and preparers as they have minimal opportunity to contaminate food. Some quick-service restaurants, such as Taco Bell, may expect cashiers to also prepare food, which means all employees adhere to the same standard. A blanket ban on facial hair is a widespread attempt to maintain health codes and not an attack on individuals.
There is pushback, however, as many current and potential employees feel “no beard” policies are discriminatory. The Crown Act seeks to prevent such potential discrimination. Shaving practices differ from religion to religion and employers can not discriminate against religious practices.
Those who do have beards who do not subscribe to religious practices feel that if allowances can be made to religious facial hair then all facial hair should be acceptable.
Tips for wearing a beard at Taco Bell
If you are going to attempt to wear a beard at Taco Bell there are some suggestions and some compromises that need to be addressed.
Wearing a beard at Taco Bell must begin with a respectful conversation with management which may end up with a conversation on the corporate level. You will need to be prepared to provide a respectful case for your beard. It is not recommended to claim your beard as part of your faith if you do not observe those practices. If you have a medical condition such as razor bumps, skin sensitivity, etc then those can certainly be talking points.
For potential new hires, showing up for an interview with a well-groomed beard to demonstrate your dedication to hygienic practices is a good start.
If and when the facial hair policy is brought up then ask if there are any allowances that could be made. Be courteous and listen. Nothing in the policy is written to attack you personally. It’s simply a blanket policy to which every employee is expected to adhere.
You should put your best beard forward every single day that you report for work, especially if you have been granted permission to keep your beard. You may be blazing a trail for the beards coming in the future. Be prepared to wear a beard net or covering for your entire shift without argument. Make no attempt to abuse a privilege.
If Taco Bell Corporate allows your beard against their appearance policy it is of the utmost importance to adhere to all health standards.