Taco Bell Worker Says Was Fired for Black Lives Matter Mask

(Bloomberg) — Taco Bell is facing mounting criticism on social media after an employee in Ohio said he was fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask at work.
Denzel Skinner, 29, took to Facebook last week to describe how he was asked to take off the mask during a shift. Instead of removing it, he walked out of the restaurant and said he was told by a manager not to come back. Skinner said employees are required to wear masks, and can use their own, but there weren’t guidelines about messages on face coverings, according to reports by local television stations WKBN and WFMJ.
Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands Inc., said it was “disappointed” to learn of the incident, which happened last week but has since gained national attention, and that executives had spoken with Skinner and apologized.
“We have been working closely with our franchisee that operates this location to address the issue,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “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.”
On Twitter, Taco Bell was a top trending topic in the U.S. Thursday morning, with the hashtags #RIPTacoBell, #TacoBellIsOverParty and #BoycottTacoBell proving particularly popular.
“We know we still have a long way to go and we will make serious, tangible changes,” the company said in a tweet later in the day, adding that it sees the Black Lives Matter movement as a human rights issue than a political one.
The tweet prompted a response from comedian Sarah Silverman, who urged Taco Bell to rehire Skinner and even consider making him a manager for his “grit.”
The chain is the latest to be tossed into the middle of the growing movement to address racial inequality and police brutality, after the killing of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis sparked widespread protests. Starbucks Corp. faced similar criticism after reportedly telling employees not to wear items branded Black Lives Matter. The coffee chain reversed its stance last week, and said it would provide employees with 250,000 t-shirts with messaging in support of the movement.
(Updates with additional company comment in sixth paragraph.)
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