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Panera Bread review: discrimination

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6:11 pm EDT
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I was employed by Panera Bread in Boardman and upon employment I was told of the dress code policy and diligently followed it so that I could get the job. Due to their no visible tattoo policy I was told I was allowed to cover the small tattoo on my wrist with a watch. Due to their no piercing policy I removed my nose stud. Their dress code states that you can only have two earrings per ear. I have stretched ears so I put flesh colored plugs in them and took the other two in each ear completely out. I was told, by the director, on the day I went in to watch videos about safety that I was okay as long as I definitely took out my nose piercing. She went into some speech about how I have a great personality but that the owner of the franchise wanted everyone to have the "girl next door" look, which I felt was an inappropriate remark. Who out there can define what the "girl next door" looks like? I would have felt much more comfortable just being told "hey, your piercing might fall in someone's soup, please remove it." I went in to train for my first day and the staff was great and very helpful, I loved the fast paced work and was picking everything up rather quickly in the sandwich line. After my shift was over, I went home with my spiffy new hat and a name tag. I was called the next morning and told that the director didn't feel that I fit the "Panera look" because of my ears. I am still very upset about this matter. I did everything I could to make sure I fit the said "look" and was still let go. NOWHERE in the policy does it say that gauged ears are not allowed. It only states that you can have two in each ear. Both of the director's own sisters work in management and the one has 6 holes in each ear and other employees cover tattoos with bandaids and watches. I also took notice that apparently people of other races do not qualify as "the girl next door" since not once have I seen, upon being employed or as a customer, any person of color working there. I sincerely hope that one day businesses will stop letting go or denying others a job because of appearance, because it's truly sad to see that discrimination still happens in 2011.

Update by LemonWater
Mar 30, 2011 3:19 pm EDT

Thank you Debra, I completely agree with you. I would rather see someone with the word 'love' scribbled on their arm that a large bandaid wondering if an open wound is lurking near my food lol. And I would not have been as offended if they'd just been up front about not wanting to hire me, but don't allow me to go through all the paperwork and become an employee and then take it away for something you knew I had from the moment you met me. For the record, my ears do not 'sag', they are very small gauges, no larger than a pencil in diameter. I would understand if they hit my shoulder or some nonsense. I also feel that there is a big difference between someone with a swastika tattooed on their face and a flower on someone's arm. Tattooed and pierced people can absolutely be professional. There are many business owners and workers, people in high positions, with tattoos and piercings.

It is very upsetting to see that people don't see this as a problem. If someone has an awesome personality, has experience in what they are going to work for, is educated, but has a small tattoo on their arm, you don't feel as though that person should be treated with an equal amount of respect as someone without any? I feel as though this is an issue with older members of society. While that may offend you Stealth, that I think you are old, I don't know anyone 30 or younger who is nearly as close minded as those over 30. Even 40 and under for that matter are more open to body art, sexual orientation, other skin colors, style of clothing, and other personal choices.

Tattooed people are still people and should not be denied jobs or respect just because some customers don't feel they should be allowed to serve them. How will you feel when you end up in a nursing home or a hospital? What if your care givers have tattoos? Will you not allow them to clean you up and help you? It's very sad that there are people out there who don't see that every person, regardless of how they appear, as an equal. Close minded people will become the minority. As older generations die off and younger generations take over it will be nice to see less discrimination. And don't kid yourself 123321, it is absolutely discrimination to be judged on your appearance alone.

Update by LemonWater
Mar 29, 2011 7:27 pm EDT

While I understand that not every customer likes them, it is completely unfair that someone who covered them and appeared the way that was allowed by policy was still let go because they had them outside of work. It would be different if I hadn't concealed everything that was asked of me.


The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

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Add a comment
May 27, 2017 12:33 pm EDT

My complaint is with unprofessional employee customer service that is unsatisfactory to me as a customer. I come to Panera bread location in Bellevue NE., because it's near my home and I am a regular customer. I know people shouldn't be treated bad when paying for service they would like to get. I will explain now, I came in to order a chocolate-chip bagel, slice, toasted, with honey walnut spread. Now I get not toasted, no honey walnut spread for the bagel also I asked could I have my items put into a small box, because I noticed they throw the pastries into the bag. This order is always to go, I return back to Panera bread told the manager about what had happen, he agreed with her, now here is what he did, over burnt my bagel, the three of us discuss my order. She replied she didn't hear when I requested the spread. I replied why did you charge me for it, so you must have heard me. The manager still agreed with her this is about the third time which is unacceptable. I have talk to other people about this location some people say they don't go to that one, and some say they have stopped going to Panera bread period! We all realize if their no customers their no business for Panera bread to stay open. The employee manner and the manager was very unprofessional together they disrespected me! The check number is 227580 I believe her name is Katara. Mrs. Veda Williams from Bellevue NE.

Jan 23, 2016 12:50 am EST

That's sad I work at Panera in meridian and they hire people like myself with tattoos. I have finger der mils and had tattoos. There's people I work with that comes from all different walks of life where I work. Our panera is awesome good managers they socialize with us help us out its a good place at the one I work at. I'm sorry you had to experience that.

Oct 10, 2015 7:09 pm EDT

Their new commercial shows a male holding the child as though the child were a food tray, eating a sandwich off of the (thank God) child's clothed rear end. That is unsanitary and disgusting. Is Panera just trying to irritate us? I would never eat there.

Jul 17, 2011 1:12 am EDT

I work at Panera as well, whoever you worked for must of been ridiculous because I have gauged ears and I've never once been told to take them out. A lot of people I work with have small visible tattoos on their wrists and usually don't even cover them up, you should deffinatly take their ### to court because that's ridiculous! You shouldn't have to look a certain way to get a job! I can't believe they said that to you! But don't worry, I HATE working at Panera so your probably better off without them :)
Good luck!

Jul 13, 2018 1:21 pm EDT
Replying to comment of katie82300

Just FYI, your appearance is NOT a constitutionally protected right, so there's nothing you can sue for. Also, depending on the state you work in, most states are AT WILL states. This means they can fire you at will for no reason, just like you
can quit without notice or reason. However, they can not fire you for constitutionally protected rights, such as your race, etc..

Mar 30, 2011 3:55 pm EDT

For the record, I am 48 years old. One is on my shoulder and one on my lower abdomen so they can always be covered with clothes. So, I think that I fall into the older generation that you talk about and I was over 40 when I got them. I'll probably be accused of going through a mid-life crisis based on the way comments go on here and I really don't care. I just want to point out to you that you should not put everyone in the same class. I don't want to be grouped with folks that cannot express an opinion with out attacking people personally. I agree with you that people can hold a professional position with diff looks. We have a high profile lawyer here that has been on the news many times that sports a mohawk. Does his hair change the way he defends people? Apparently not. So, keep looking. You will find more tolerant people to work for.
And, my stepson's ears did not reach his shoulder either. He also had to use the flesh colored plugs at his job so I know what you are talking about there. Sometimes he even had to take them out for safety reasons.
I do believe that Panera Bread discriminates just as Hooter's does with the girls' that work for them. It's life and there is nothing that we can really do about it.

Jun 13, 2018 6:29 pm EDT
Replying to comment of Debra F

I 100% agree with the fact that we shouldn't generalize a certian type of person. However, I feel most of us do point out an older generation because most of us have been discriminated against by people 45+. Honestly, as far as I'm aware, if it wasn't for older generations have such harsh judgements, we wouldn't be having this problem in the first place. I'm not blaming you or anyone like you but I think you have to realize that people have a reason to say the things they do.

Mar 30, 2011 3:33 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

This is what happens when young kids go to the extreme and don't realize the consequences down the road into adulthood. You need to think about the future and the things you do to your body now will affect you in other ways down the road. I personally wouldn't hire someone with all that garbage all over them. It turns alot of people off more than people on. Just stating the facts.

Mar 29, 2011 7:44 pm EDT

I know and I agree with you. I think that it sucks. I have 2 piercings in each ear, a naval ring and 2 hidden tattoos. Just letting you know that I am not against you. If they didn't like it, they should not have hired you and gone through all of the steps that they did to prepare you for the job. Just trying to understand what their reasoning may be. Personally, I would be grossed out by the one with all of the bandaids. I'd rather know someone had tattoos than wonder what disease they may have that might get passed along.

Mar 29, 2011 6:23 pm EDT

I, personally, hate the way gauged ears look (kinda makes my stomach flip). My stepson has them. I don't like face piercing either. With that said, just because it is not for me doesn't mean that a person with piercings and guaged ears should not have a right to work in a fast food place or any other place for that matter. Unfortunately, I think a lot of folks feel intimidated by piercings and tattoos and these companies may be trying to make sure that all of their customers are comfortable.


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3630 S. Geyer Road, Suite 100, Texas United States