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Toronto Man Claims Discrimination Over Beard

Veteran News
Veteran News
November 30, 2016
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Company policies on appearance abound; people can be disciplined or miss out on a job because of their tattoos, piercings, and colored hair. But should the same policies cover facial hair?Allan Stokell doesn't think so. The 68-year-old Toronto resident said that his human rights were violated when UPS told him he had to shave his beard in order to work for them.“Although not as serious as some (violations), I don’t believe large multi-national corporations should be able to get away with this,” Stokell said. “I’ve had a beard since I was 18 and I identify as being a bearded person. It’s something I live by, I’m very proud of my beard and I’m not really interested in shaving it off.”Stokell applied to UPS to become a seasonal "Walker," a position that helps truck drivers pick up and deliver packages. During his application, he was told that the dress code required for the job also included a clean-shaved face, along with their strict policies against visible tattoos and piercings. When he protested by stating that his beard was well-groomed and cut short, a short exchange of emails told him that, “unless one is keeping their facial hair for religious or medical reasons, all employees need to be clean shaven at UPS as part of UPS’s appearance policy.” If he wanted that religious or medical exemption, he'd need to provide "proper documentation."


The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a suit against UPS in 2015 related to this policy, alleging the discrimination against those people whose religious beliefs mandate beards or long hair, such as Orthodox Jews or Sikhs. The suit is yet to be resolved.For his part, Stokell considers his beard a family tradition, and not just a style choice.“My son has a beard, my father and grandfather all had beards… It’s something you live by.”Stokell has not been formally turned down by UPS, but he has not heard back from them either. He maintains that he is no longer interested in working for the company since they would not be a "welcoming environment" for him.

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