A Taco Bell employee alleges he was fired after refusing to take off his "Black Lives Matter" face mask. In a video shared to Twitter that has now gone viral, 29-year-old Denzel Skinner can be heard in disagreement with a female voice off-screen, being told that he cannot "bring politics into the building" after he showed up to his shift supporting the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the globe.
In the nearly minute-long clip, Skinner can be heard telling his co-worker that he is "not bringing politics" into the workplace and that "this is what I'm standing for…I'm standing up for my people." After the alleged co-worker tells him that he doesn't "get it," Skinner counters, telling her that she doesn't "either." He says that "if you did, this wouldn't be a problem." The woman, meanwhile, tells him that "it's not that it's a problem with me," but rather that "it's a company thing."
Following the incident, Skinner took to Facebook Live, where he explained that he was asked "to leave" and "not come back" by a manager for wearing the mask. Skinner explained that as soon as he walked into the restaurant he was told "you can't wear that mask." Speaking with WFMJ, Skinner said that on May 4, it became a requirement that employees wear masks during their shifts, but the notice "didn't have any fine print on it" regarding if they could or could not have words on it. He said, "it just said we have to wear a mask." The notice, which Skinner sent to the outlet, did not detail any restrictions around masks.
In a statement, Taco Bell said they were "disappointed to learn about the incident" and are "working with our franchisee that operates this location to understand what happened." The company said they are "committed to fighting racial injustice and are hosting open forums to give restaurant teams an opportunity to discuss racism in America." Taco Bell confirmed that they require employees to wear masks when working and that due to supply restrictions, they have allowed team members to bring in their own alternative facial coverings. They said that they are in the process of considering the need to revise mask and uniform requirements to address recent concerns.
In response to the incident, about 30 people held a rally, marching to the Taco Bell where Skinner was formerly employed. For the march, Skinner wore the same mask he wore on the day he was fired. The Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League is helping look into the incident.