Spanish government rules Burger King’s uniforms are sexually discriminatory

A Burger King employee in Madrid, Spain
Photo: Horacio Villalobos (Getty Images)

Burger King workers in Spain have been trying for a while now to get the fast-food company to change its policies on uniforms and personal grooming. Specifically, the more than 1,200 Burger King employees in Barcelona and the surrounding Catalonia region have asked the company to permit men to have beards, and to do away with the uniform requirement that men wear ties and women wear ribbons around their necks.

The Guardian reports the regional labor-inspection committee finally took up the issue, and ruled that the prohibition on facial hair and the sex-based uniform policy “violated employees’ constitutional rights” and constituted “sexual discrimination.” Workers will now be able to sport mustaches and beards, and presumably to either choose the neckwear they prefer or not wear any. In its ruling, the committee stated the prior uniform policy infringed on “the constitutional rights of workers, namely, the right to one’s own image.” It noted that beard nets are a sanitary option for those who don’t wish to shave.

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It also seems (to this writer at least) that little harm can come of letting employees choose to wear ties or ribbons, regardless of gender. I’ve noticed greater flexibility in the uniforms worn not only by fast-food employees—aren’t polo shirts the norm in the U.S.?—but by other uniformed workers including flight attendants and postal workers. At the least, couldn’t everyone just wear these?

Burger King employees in Barcelona told The Guardian they hope this change will be applied to all workers in Spain, not just those in their area. Burger King did not comment for the article.

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Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.