Taco Bell Worker Who Wouldn't Take BLM Mask Off Was Fired

Taco Bell has since apologized to Denzel Skinner
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2020 9:20 AM CDT
Taco Bell Says Sorry to Worker Fired for BLM Mask
In this Oct. 17, 2017, file photo, customers line up at a Taco Bell restaurant inside Miami International Airport in Miami.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

On June 2, Taco Bell posted a letter from its CEO noting it was "committed to being part of long-term solutions" on "racism or violence against Black people." This week, the fast-food chain took flak for that statement after an employee in Youngstown, Ohio, was fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask to work. Per WKBN, Denzel Skinner says the store's AC went on the fritz on June 8, and the heat made the surgical mask he'd been given too hard to breathe in. Instead, he says, he donned his own Black Lives Matter mask and was told by a manager to take it off. He refused and says he was told he'd lose his job if he walked out. From his car, Skinner posted a 30-minute live video to Facebook explaining what had happened; a shorter clip by social media personality Elijah Daniel also went viral, amassing millions of views.

Yahoo notes that after his video went viral, the #RIPTacoBell hashtag started making the rounds, with people offering recipes on how to make the chain's food at home. USA Today reports that in the video a woman's voice—possibly the manager who fired Skinner—can be heard telling him "you don't get it" and "you can't be bringing politics into the building." "How is this considered politics?" Skinner responds, adding, "I'm standing up for my people." The chain agreed. Taco Bell tweeted that it was "deeply upset" about the incident and that "we believe the Black Lives Matter movement is a human rights issue and not a political one." It also said it would clarify its mask policy. Still, Skinner says he won't go back to the job he's had for the last eight years. (Business Insider rounds up other companies taken to task on Black Lives Matter, including Starbucks.)

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