Supermarket chain Publix has taken a hard stance against employees wearing face masks that express support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As the Fort Myers News-Press reports, 18-year-old Quinton Desamours walked out of his job at Publix in Lehigh Acres, Florida, after an assistant manager informed him his surgical mask with "BLM" written on it wasn't appropriate attire.
"He told me that I was endangering myself and everybody else who worked there," he explained. "Then he said he couldn't have me out on the floor with that mask on." Prior to the incident at work, he said he had attended a protest against police brutality in Fort Myers. "I personally believe that, in order for there to be change int his world, everyone needs to be on board," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "If people see the message out in public more often, they can become more aware."
Earlier this month, Publix CEO Todd Jones revealed the company would donate $1 million to National Urban League affiliates. "Like you, I'm saddened and unsettled by racial injustice or events that divide our country," he said in a statement. "Now, more than ever, is the time for us to listen with open hearts and to lead with empathy—toward each other, toward our customers and toward our communities. At Publix, we reject racism and discrimination of any kind."
Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, Publix spokesperson Maria Brous said that employees can only wear company approved face coverings at work. "Our uniform policy does not permit non-Publix messaging on clothing or accessories," Brous said. Publix's stance comes after Starbucks reversed its decision to ban employees from wearing Black Lives Matter apparel.
Check out the reactions to Publix's stance below.