A former worker says he quit his job after being told by a New Jersey Wawa store that he couldn’t wear a face mask in support of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
Andre Lynch III, 20, told NBC10 he wasn’t able to attend the ongoing protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death but wanted to stand in solidarity. On Saturday, Lynch arrived at his job at the Wawa store on Rt. 38 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, wearing a black mask with the words, “Black Lives Matter," "Say My Name" and “I Can’t Breathe.”
“About two hours into my shift, a manager calls me inside, closes the door and says, ‘With everything that’s going on right now, I need you to take the mask off,’” Lynch told NBC10.
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Lynch claimed he didn’t get any complaints from customers during the two-hour span in which he wore the mask.
“The funny thing is I was given this by a customer,” he said. “So I wore it proudly.”
Lynch said his manager gave him the option to wear a different mask or leave. That’s when Lynch decided to quit.
“He just showed his character,” Lynch’s father, Andre Lynch, Jr., told NBC10. “He had to stand for his principles. He stood for what he believed in.”
Lynch said representatives for Wawa later reached out to him to apologize and offer his job back. However, he also said he was still told he wouldn’t be allowed to wear the Black Lives Matter mask to work. Lynch said he’s taking some time to decide whether or not he’ll return to his job.
A spokesperson for Wawa told NBC10 the company believes in equity, equality and that “Black lives matter.” The spokesperson also said the company is committed to their "Black associates and communities."
“We are currently working on ways through our diversity and inclusion efforts to enhance our uniform standards to enable our associates to express their support and we also will be posting signage in stores as part of that support,” the spokesperson wrote.
"We look forward to sharing more information about the additional actions we are taking soon and direct you to wawa.com to learn more about the steps we've already taken."
Last week Starbucks came under fire after it was reported that the coffee chain would not allow its employees to wear Black Lives Matter clothing or accessories. Management justified the decision by saying that such items could be misunderstood and incite violence.
Starbucks later reversed the decision after a backlash and calls for a boycott on social media.