Eric DeBenedictis Massachusetts 0

Market Basket Dress Code Reform

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Petition Terms:

Allow employees to grow facial hair

Allow male employees to grow long hair

Eliminate gender-specific standards

Allow employees to dye their hair different colors

Allow employees to wear piercings

Below is the letter in full that will be submitted to Arthur T. Demoulas, the CEO of Market Basket, if this petition reaches 500 signatures:

Dear Arthur T. Demoulas,

I strongly support the way in which you lead the company, and I stood up for you alongside co-workers during your time of need. However, Market Basket’s policies on workplace appearance are outdated, promoting a prejudice society. Uniforms, without a doubt, are 100% justified in the way they are enforced in the current dress code, but prohibiting personal, long-term choices like facial hair, hairstyles, and piercings is where the dress code becomes a bit too strict for modern times and demands reform. A part-time job should not affect one’s full-time appearance.

For a case in point, a man’s beard takes weeks to months to grow, so requiring a man to shave for a part-time job affects how he looks in his day-to-day life. This is not a fair expectation. Current policy views men with facial hair as ‘un-groomed’, but beards and facial hair are not necessarily a dirty or disgusting trait; they can be trimmed and kept clean with proper grooming without being strictly bare-skin “clean shaven”. Sure, you can tell employees to keep themselves groomed, but facial hair is most certainly not too dirty for a workplace environment, and for many men, it is part of their identity.

Moreover, some men prefer to have long hair and should be allowed to grow it out, taming it like women are allowed to with ponytails. Men and women also have personal preferences in dying hair, some even with offbeat colors like red, blue, and purple. I am not suggesting that you allow radical hairstyles like spiked-up rainbow mohawks, but rather to accept a wider range of modern hairstyles, and make the standards for men and women equal to eliminate sexist, gender-specific standards. (Making men wear blue aprons and women wear red smocks is a non-sexist, gender-specific standard.)

The current policy also prohibits piercings. Contrary to corporate belief, piercings are not a quality of delinquents, but a personal preference of one’s appearance. Managers ask employees to cover up piercings with bandaids because the current dress code sees them as inappropriate. Employees and customers alike agree that bandaids look far worse and more distracting to an employee’s public appearance than exposing the piercings that lie underneath, and people should not be punished for how they choose to look.

On the argument of not affecting a part-time employee’s full-time appearance, piercings may seem like the exception; it is sometimes very easy to take them out temporarily for work. However, constantly taking out piercings, especially new ones, can leave wounds open to infection, allow holes to close (especially with gauges), and can cause severe pain when put back in. It would be easiest and most ethical to allow employees to wear their piercings on and off work, rather than go through the trouble of taking them out or giving them the shame of covering them up with intrusive bandaids.When you respect an employee’s personal decisions, you gain their respect back.

What’s more, you should consider that many part-time employees are only in high school, which is the pinnacle for experimentation with identity and appearance. But when high schoolers want to get their first job, working for a great company like Market Basket, they should not be forced to look a certain way or abide to a certain standard when they are not on the clock.

If this current dress policy is in place to please customers, it is only there to promote a prejudice society, allowing them to ‘judge a book by its cover’. Customers should judge their service by the way our employees treat them, not by the way they look. I understand that there is value in having a presentable staff with shirts and ties, blouses and khakis, but this up and coming generation has many different ways of expressing their identities - and it is time that this company allows it instead of discriminates against it. As long as an employee is in uniform, it should be enough to be on the clock. There is beauty in acceptance and diversity.


Eric DeBenedictis

Front End Assistant

Store #69

PS: I speak as a clean shaven male employee with no piercings and short hair, so I hold little to no personal bias. However, as a supervisor, many employees and even customers have complained to me about the strict dress code, so I feel some responsibility to take action for something I believe is a workers’ right.

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