A Taco Bell nighttime shift manager in Youngstown, Ohio, alleges he was fired after refusing to take off his Black Lives Matter mask.
Last Monday, Denzel Skinner went on Facebook Live and said he was asked “to leave” and “not come back” by a different manager for his attire.
“All because I got a Black Lives Matter mask on; I get fired,” Skinner said in the clip.
Skinner is also seen engaging in a heated conversation with the manager, who is out of frame but appears to be the one who allegedly told him to leave, and who said, “You can’t bring politics into the building.”
“I’m not bringing politics in. This is what I’m standing for,” Skinner exclaimed.
The other manager is also heard telling Skinner that employees need to wear “plain” masks, later adding, “It’s not that it’s a problem with me. It’s a company thing.”
Skinner — who has worked at the location for eight years — told NBC/CW affiliate WFMJ last Thursday that masks became a requirement for employees May 4. However, Skinner says Taco Bell did not specify whether or not the masks could have wording on them.
“It didn’t have any fine print on it. It just said we have to wear a mask,” he told the outlet.
Skinner also defended his right to wear a Black Lives Matter mask in order to promote justice for recent incidents of police brutality and racial inequality.
“If the governor and governments are requiring us to wear masks, we should be able to wear any type of mask that you want,” he said. “And not only that, I still want everyone to believe that we still need justice for what is happening in this world and people need to be held accountable for whatever mistakes that they make. Black lives are going to always matter. Not just when some people want it to matter. It will always matter.”
When WFMJ reached out to the fast-food chain, they said they were “disappointed to learn about the incident.”
“We are working with our franchisee that operates this location to understand what happened. We are committed to fighting racial injustice and are hosting open forums to give restaurant teams an opportunity to discuss racism in America. Our priority is to be an inclusive brand while keeping our team members and customers safe,” Taco Bell corporate said in a statement.
The company also noted that they introduced masks in their restaurants in April but allowed employees to bring their own due to supply shortages.
Taco Bell says they are considering revising their mask and uniform requirements to address these recent concerns.
“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,” they said in a statement obtained by TMZ on Thursday.
TMZ also reported that Taco Bell has apologized to Skinner.
“We believe Black Lives Matter,” the company added.
Despite this, the eatery received immense social media backlash when Skinner’s video went viral, prompting Twitter users to circulate the hashtag #RIPTacoBell.