Newsweek reports Taco Bell have apologized to a longtime employee who was fired for refusing to take off his Black Lives Matter mask while working.
It was first reported last week that Denzel Skinner, a night manager at the fast-food restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio, allegedly lost his job for wearing the mask he brought to work.
Skinner said he chose to wear his own mask rather than the surgical masks provided to staff members as it was easier to breathe through during the hot weather.
Speaking to WKBN, Skinner said that a manager told him to take off the mask, which he refused to do.
The manager threatened that if Skinner walked out the restaurant he would lose the job that he had for the past eight years, which he then did.
Skinner said Taco Bell’s policy requires all employees to cover their faces while working, but there are no rules prohibiting employees from writing messages on them.
“All it stated was [the mask] had to be clean,” Skinner said.
Skinner later posted a Facebook Live video of him in his car, arguing with a female and explaining that he won’t remove his mask.
“I’m not bringing politics in, this is what I stand for,” he says during the clip. “You don’t get it, because if you did this wouldn’t be a problem.”
In a statement to Newsweek, Taco Bell said: “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.”
The news of Skinner’s firing and the video he posted went viral on Twitter, resulting in #RIPTacoBell becoming one of the top trending topics on Thursday.
Comedian and rapper Elijah Daniel was one of those who helped the clip gain prominence on social media, sharing the video with his 715,000 Twitter followers.
— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) June 18, 2020
— papa (@theogpaps) June 18, 2020