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Publix may soon allow employees to grow beards

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Publix has forbidden its employees from growing beards for decades--but that soon could change.

Until now, the grocery chain has limited facial hair for men to well-groomed mustaches. This year, Publix has been allowing male employees in some stores grow short beards. The Sun Sentinel reports that the change comes with evolving cultural perceptions, employee pressure and a shortage of workers giving Publix reason to rethink its rules.

Mustaches have always been allowed. The company's founder George Jenkins even sported one.

Publix is an 88-year-old supermarket chain known for its carefully branded image and its rigorous attention to customers and cleanliness, including facial hair. 

A federal lawsuit was filed against the grocery chain in 2017 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They say Publix wouldn't allow a Nashville man to work in one of its stores because he would not cut his dreadlocks.

28-year-old Guy Usher was forced to quit a day before his start date because store managers said he needed to cut his hair above his shoulders. Usher wears his hair in long dreadlocks as part of Rastafari, an Africa-centered religion developed in Jamaica during the 1930s.

The case is still being contested in federal court.