Woman Quits Job at California Restaurant After Being Asked To Remove BLM Mask

A woman quit her job at a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco after she was told she could no longer wear a Black Lives Matter mask during her shift.

Kimi Stout lost her job at The Girl & The Fig in September, but only went public with the news in a January Instagram video that has since been viewed thousands of times.

In the clip, Stout is seen removing a The Girl & The Fig and throwing it in a trash can before sticking her middle fingers up and walking away.

"On September 3rd, 2020, I was forced out of my position as a server at The Girl and the Fig restaurant in Sonoma, CA for refusing to remove my 'Black Lives Matter' mask after a new mask policy was put into place," Stout wrote in an Instagram caption.

"I was told by the president of the company that if I did not change my mask I would not be allowed to work and that BLM is 'too political.'

Speaking to the SFGate, Stout said that she had been wearing the Black Lives Matter mask since August. During one of her shifts, Stout said her manager pulled her to one side and she wasn't in trouble but said "we did have somebody complain about your mask and they were very aggressive about it."

Despite this, Stout said the president of the company, John Toulze, later told her he supported her choice in wearing the BLM mask to work and she continued to do so.

On September 1, the restaurant announced that they would be bringing in a new mask policy meaning their staff would be required to wear The Girl & The Fig branded masks, or a plain black or blue surgical mask to "provide flexibility but still align with the dress code."

"I'm not saying that they wrote the policy for me, but I felt very targeted when I read it," Stout told SFGate.

"I decided that I was going to wear my mask anyway, because as far as I knew, the president of the company, I had his 100 percent support."

On September 3, Stout wore her BLM mask for her shift. She said Toulze approached her and asked her to turn it around to hide the logo.

When she refused, the pair talked in his office where she said she told him "I can't make exceptions, because if I make an exception for you, someone may come in tomorrow with another political mask, and I just can't have that. We can't be aligning ourselves anywhere politically."

Stout was then told that if she came to work the following day with the mask, she would be sent home.

"I regret to say that I told him, you know, let's just call it now," said Stout. "I don't want to cause a scene. I don't want to cause drama."

Stout said she has since found new employment and doesn't want the incident to be focused on her.

"I want this to be about Black Lives Matter," Stout said. "I don't want it to be about me and 'oh, this girl lost her job.' Don't worry about me: worry about the fact that a very busy restaurant actively forced out somebody showing support for marginalized lives."

There have been a number of incidents where businesses have told their employees they cannot wear BLM masks during their shifts in the wake of the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

Last June, Taco Bell apologized to an Ohio worker who was fired after he refused to remove a BLM mask he wore at work despite claiming he was not breaking any uniform policy.

In a statement, The Girl & The Fig said: "We seek to have every customer who comes through our doors leave impressed by our restaurants and excited to come back again. We believe that the professionalism of the girl & the fig dress code supports an exceptional dining experience and ambiance.

"However, we recognize that after a year of devastating social injustice occurring across the country, face masks have become another opportunity for self-expression and visible displays of support for important issues including the Black Lives Matter movement.

We were disappointed to learn that a valued employee no longer wanted to continue employment with the girl & the fig after we created the face mask policy and resigned because they could not use their uniform to express support for this important cause.

"We are proud of our history of community engagement, but also recognize that there is more learning and listening we can do to show support for the Black community. We are committed to growing from this experience and continuing to provide an exceptional dining experience at The Girl & The Fig."

The Girl & The Fig has been contacted for further comment.

(File photo) A protester wears a protective face mask with the lettering 'Black Lives Matter' during a demonstration against racism in Leiden, The Netherlands, on June 14, 2020. A woman quit her job at a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco after they asked her to remove a BLM mask. KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP/Getty