Toronto Man Says UPS Discriminated Against Him Because of His Beard

Not everyone is as much of a fan of the beard as we are.

In fact – unless it’s for religious purposes – you can count out a job at UPS if you have a beard and don’t want to part with it any time soon.

As The Toronto Star reports, one Toronto man who’s had his beard for 50 years – 50 years – says the massive courier company discriminated against him when he applied for a job.

Allan Stokell, 68, said that UPS violated his human rights by informing him that he would have to get rid of his beard if he wanted to work for them, thanks to a policy that requires employees to be clean-shaven unless they get a religious accommodation.

“Although not as serious as some (violations), I don’t believe large multi-national corporations should be able to get away with this,” said Stokell to The Toronto Star. “I’ve had a beard since I was 18 and I identify as being a bearded person.”

Aw.

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Image: Steve Russell/The Toronto Star

“It’s something I live by, I’m very proud of my beard and I’m not really interested in shaving it off.”

Though it’s an unfortunate situation to be in, we’re kind of loving his quotes on the matter.

“My son has a beard, my father and grandfather all had beards… It’s something you live by,” he said.

Should an employer really have the right to ban a beard?

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In more conservative and traditional institutions and professions, the no-beard policy may make a little more sense. But we’re pretty sure that Stokell’s beard wouldn’t have gotten in the way of parcel delivery or scared off any customers in the seasonal role as a walker – someone who helps UPS drivers pick up and deliver packages.

Upon receiving Stokell’s application, UPS replied to him with a questionnaire asking, among other things, whether he accepts the company’s “strict appearance guidelines.”

The guidelines require employees “to be clean shaven and hide visible piercings and tattoos.”

We guess nobody will be getting a ‘work tattoo’ of the UPS logo anytime soon (yes, it’s a thing).

“UPS does have appearance and grooming guidelines in place,” company spokesperson Nirali Raval said in an email to The Star. “Through the interview process the appearance and grooming policy is explained to all applicants.”

And they’re not backing down; UPS Canada said that it “is confident in the legality of its employment practices.”

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Stokell isn’t the first to lend his voice to the fight against facial hair discrimination in the workplace.

Nickel smelting worker Christopher Browne filed a human rights complaint against his employer, Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations in 2014, after he was told to shave his goatee. In January 2016, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled against him. They said that his goatee was not affiliated with religious beliefs and couldn’t be defended as an expression of gender.

“Wearing a beard or other facial hair is a matter of style or grooming, and is not a matter of sufficient social significance to warrant protection under human rights legislation … absent any connection to a matter of religious observance,” said adjudicator Mark Hart, in his decision, as The Star reports.

As for the UPS job, Stokell hasn’t officially been turned down and has not been in further contact with the company. Don’t expect to see him at your doorstep bearing gifts anytime soon; he says he is no longer interested in working for the company.

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