Taco Bell apologizes to worker fired for BLM mask
The longtime employee says he refused to remove it because he knew the store's policy didn't expressly prohibit messages
Denzel Skinner, a longtime Taco Bell employee in Youngstown, Ohio was trying to make sure he was keeping himself and the store’s customers safe by donning the required mask while working.
As reported by WKBN, while store policy required that he wear the mask the company provided, Skinner says he couldn’t breathe in that one. An air conditioning outage in the store made it that much harder.
Since he had his own mask that covers his mouth and noses as required, he thought that would suffice. But the mask had a Black Lives Matter graphic on it and Skinner was told that he’d be fired for wearing it. He refused to take it off and considered his job gone, ultimately walking out.
Skinner posted an angry video to YouTube to share his experience.
Warning – graphic language.
Skinner, a night manager at the store who’d been there for eight years, knew that Taco Bell didn’t have a policy about what was written on the mask, as long as he was wearing one. As it turns out, Skinner was in the right.
In a statement sent to Newsweek, the company said they were sorry.
“We believe Black Lives Matter. We were disappointed to learn about the incident that took place in Youngstown, OH.
“We take this very seriously; we have been working closely with our franchisee that operates this location to address the issue.
“Our Chief People Officer and Yum!’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer spoke with Denzel last week to apologize and discuss the situation.
“Our goal is to ensure our policies are inclusive and keep our team members and customers safe. While our policies at restaurants do not prohibit Team Members from wearing Black Lives Matter masks, we are working to clarify our mask policy so this doesn’t happen again.”
Skinner appeared at a protest in his support last week according to Newsweek.
“If it takes me losing my job where I’ve been for eight years to fight for change, then that’s what it takes,” Skinner said.
Although he worked for the company part-time for eight years, he’s never been eligible for paid leave or vacation. He told WKBN he’ll spend time with family while figuring out what he’ll do next.
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