Whataburger, a fast food chain in America, fired an employee after a white customer complained about her wearing a BLM, or Black Lives Matter, mask. The incident happened on August 4 at one of the branches of Whataburger in Fort Worth, Texas.
White customer complains about Black employee wearing BLM mask
Makiya Congious, the 19-year-old Black woman, worked at a Whataburger branch in a historically Black part of town. She had been working there since May for $9.25/hour. In fact, she previously wore the mask to work on July 31 and faced no issues. However, on August 4, a white customer walked in and complained about her mask. She also told the customer that it should not be a problem as others are wearing masks too – this one simply held a meaning to her.
She then stayed in order to talk to her manager about the mask policy and recorded the conversation. During this talk, another customer said the n-word, to which another employee said, ‘That’s why my life matters.’
Whataburger fires employee for BLM mask
When she asked about the mask policy, the manager said that it was okay for her to have personal opinions. However, her mask should not show these opinions because people may feel ‘offended’.
Whataburger doesn’t want to get into anything political because we’re just hamburgers and fries.Mikaya’s manager
Makiya proceeded to consider quitting and asked about giving a two weeks’ notice. At that point, the manager simply asked her to leave instead of bothering to give a notice at all.
The management also called the cops on her when she refused to leave after asking for the number for filing a complaint. After she got it, she left the store. Makiya then filed a complaint with Texas state officials. She also made it clear that she really only wanted to know what the option to quit would look like – the employer made the decision for her.
Whataburger and Mikaya at loggerheads
The next day, Whataburger released a statement saying that they supported racial equality, but also enforced a uniform policy. The statement also said that Whataburger employees get masks from the company itself. Furthermore, they said that Mikaya ‘voluntarily’ resigned as she had issues with the policy. The same day, Mikaya went to a news conference to say that it wasn’t anything ‘political’. She is yet to file a case. In the meantime, during the conference itself, she asked the Whataburger CEO, Ed Nelson, to publicly state that Whataburger supports the BLM movement. Moreover, she wants the chain to begin implicit bias training and have a holiday for Juneteenth across the company.
Jason CN Smith, Mikaya’s attorney, also told the Post that the incident was a matter of racial discrimination. He said, ‘There’s such a strong aversion or reaction to African Americans saying that they matter, and it’s that reaction that is causing the problems in our society’. He added that companies should be supporting their Black employees, instead of making white people more comfortable with their racism.
It’s not a political thing. It’s just a statement that says ‘Black Lives Matter’ because we do matter.Mikaya Congious
However, Whataburger faced backlash from the public. Protesters stood outside the store. Some people also ordered a lot of food, but left without taking it or paying for it.
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