A video showing an African-American man wearing a face mask bearing the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” is going viral. The man named Denzel Skinner, 29, claimed he was fired from his job in a Taco Bell restaurant on 3551 Belmont Avenue in Liberty Township, Ohio, United States.
Via Facebook Live on June 8, 2020, Skinner explained that a manager asked him to leave because of the mask he was wearing while working. He said, “All because I got a Black Lives Matter mask on, I get fired.”
According to Skinner, it was very hot in the restaurant because the air conditioning recently broke. Since the surgical mask makes it hard to breathe when it is warm, he decided to wear a Black Lives Matter face mask instead as it was easier to breathe through but the manager said he had to take it off.
Skinner refused and the manager said if he walked out of the restaurant, he would lose his job. The African-American man did lose his job after walking out.
Because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Taco Bell restaurant required its employees to wear face masks. On May 4, 2020, an announcement was sent to Skinner and his co-workers saying that masks “are required not only by the states but by Taco Bell and KFC.”
“They must be worn properly at all times,” the announcement continued. “We have been receiving multiple guest complaints about employees wearing masks under their chins or not over their nose. Team, I know it’s hot and uncomfortable but unfortunately, this is what has to be done. Not wearing your mask correctly is grounds for termination.”
Moreover, the announcement urged Skinner and his co-workers to follow the rules while businesses are currently under a microscope. They were reminded to follow the rules on masks, gloves and food safety.
“It didn’t have any fine print on it,” Skinner told 21 News. “It just said we have to wear a mask.”
Skinner hails from Youngstown, Ohio. He graduated from Chaney High School in Youngstown in 2010.
On June 18, 2020, Elijah Daniel, 26, of Los Angeles, California, USA took to Twitter to share a clip from the incident when Skinner was fired. The comedian, rapper, record producer, songwriter and author even tagged Taco Bell but the company has yet to respond to him.
Headquartered in Irvine, California, Taco Bell was founded by Glenn Bell on March 21, 1962 in Downey, California. It serves a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex foods including burritos, nachos, quesadillas and tacos.
Mark King has been serving as the CEO of Taco Bell since August 5, 2019. The fast food chain is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc.
“We are disappointed to learn what took place in Youngstown,” Taco Bell said in a statement obtained by WKBN First News 27. “We are working with our franchisee that operates this location to understand what happened.”
“We are committed to fighting racial injustice and hosting open forums to give restaurant teams an opportunity to discuss racism in America,” the statement continued. “Our priority is to be an inclusive brand while keeping team members and customers safe.”