Burger King Workers Must Be Allowed to Grow Beards, Catalan Government Rules

Burger King Workers Must Be Allowed to Grow Beards, Catalan Government Rules

July 31, 2019 Off By Jelisa Castrodale

Last November, the Burger King—the actual Burger King—symbolically shaved his beard to show his support for the Movember Foundation, a charity that raises awareness for men's health issues. The unblinking plastic monarch supposedly spent the month growing a "kingstache" for the charity, and encouraged other men to do the same, but he ultimately allowed his beard to "grow back," or to be glued back in place, or digitally rendered or whatever.

Burger King has also served up some Whopper-sized hypocrisy, because its internal rules in some parts of the world prohibit any its own employees from having any facial hair, including mustaches, beards, or even kingstaches. But a Catalan labor inspection committee recently ruled in favor of hair follicles, and said that Burger King's regulations violated parts of the Spanish constitution.

According to The Guardian, the Workers’ Commissions union in the province of Barcelona asked the government to step in after it heard repeated complaints from some Burger King employees. They took issue with the chain's restrictions on facial hair, which they said "undermined the dignity of its workers," and with Burger King's gender-specific dress code, which required male workers to wear ties and female workers to wear ribbons.

The committee agreed. "As a result of the inspection, it has been established that certain company practices laid out in the internal rules infringe the constitutional rights of workers, namely, the right to one’s own image and the right to equal treatment and against sexual discrimination as set out, respectively, in articles 18.1 and 14 of the Spanish constitution," they wrote in their report. (They also basically said 'You've heard of beard nets, right?')

Right now, the labor inspectors' ruling only affects (and helps) the 1,269 workers in Barcelona, but they remain hopeful that it will eventually allow all of the Burger King employees in Spain to have whatever combination of facial hair, ribbons and ties they'd like.

VICE has reached out to Burger King to determine what its facial hair policy is at its restaurants in the United States. In 2007, a Chester, Pennsylvania man was awarded $15,800 in damages after he was fired from a Brookhaven Burger King for refusing to shave his beard. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gary Majors had a letter from his imam, explaining that he was "a Muslim and in good standing for many years." He was fired anyway and, according to Majors, he was never given the option of wearing a beard net.

Majors worked with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filed a lawsuit, and in addition to monetary damages, the court ruled that the owner of that Burger King would have to provide the store's supervisors and managers with special training about employee rights and religious accommodations.

But… but what if he'd had a Kingstache?