Taco Bell Apologizes to Employee Fired For Wearing Black Lives Matter Mask

Taco Bell have apologized to a longtime employee who was fired for refusing to take off his Black Lives Matter mask while working.

It was first reported last week that Denzel Skinner, a night manager at the fast-food restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio, allegedly lost his job for wearing the mask he brought to work.

Skinner said he chose to wear his own mask rather than the surgical masks provided to staff members as it was easier to breathe through during the hot weather.

Speaking to WKBN, Skinner said that a manager told him to take off the mask, which he refused to do.

The manager threatened that if Skinner walked out the restaurant he would lose the job that he had for the past eight years, which he then did.

Skinner said Taco Bell's policy requires all employees to cover their faces while working, but there are no rules prohibiting employees from writing messages on them.

"All it stated was [the mask] had to be clean," Skinner said.

Skinner later posted a Facebook Live video of him in his car, arguing with a female and explaining that he won't remove his mask.

"I'm not bringing politics in, this is what I stand for," he says during the clip. "You don't get it, because if you did this wouldn't be a problem."

In a statement to Newsweek, Taco Bell said: "We believe Black Lives Matter. We were disappointed to learn about the incident that took place in Youngstown, OH.

"We take this very seriously; we have been working closely with our franchisee that operates this location to address the issue.

"Our Chief People Officer and Yum!'s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer spoke with Denzel last week to apologize and discuss the situation.

"Our goal is to ensure our policies are inclusive and keep our team members and customers safe. While our policies at restaurants do not prohibit Team Members from wearing Black Lives Matter masks, we are working to clarify our mask policy so this doesn't happen again."

The news of Skinner's firing and the video he posted went viral on Twitter, resulting in #RIPTacoBell becoming one of the top trending topics on Thursday.

Comedian and rapper Elijah Daniel was one of those who helped the clip gain prominence on social media, sharing the video with his 715,000 Twitter followers.

Taco Bell manager firing an employee for supporting BLM :/ #RIPTacoBell pic.twitter.com/pFd6Wn4u2f

— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) June 18, 2020

I can completely emphasize with the young man at Taco Bell. As an operating room nurse I was told by my managers that I couldn’t wear this mask at @BonSecours so I left as well. Stand for something or fall for anything ✊🏽. #RIPTacoBell pic.twitter.com/7uwvWEUeDV

— Ms. Harris (@Devoted2MeONLY) June 18, 2020

Hey @tacobell nice PR move but you’re as fake as they come #RIPTacoBell pic.twitter.com/6W0NC3LGRN

— papa (@theogpaps) June 18, 2020

fighting for black lives is not a political issue!!! this is really not complex, i don’t get how people (& million dollar corporations) don’t understand this. fighting for basic human rights is not a political issue!!! #BlackLivesMatter #RIPtacobell

— haley (@rigbr0ther) June 18, 2020

I guarantee that Taco Bell wouldn’t have fired someone who wore a “Make America Great Again,” mask. Why is it so hard for Republican to just say “Black Lives Matter.” It’s almost as if they feel they can be both a Republican and a non-racist at the same time. #riptacobell

— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) June 18, 2020

I believe private businesses have a right, and should, stop their employees from bringing politics into the workplace. But, even though the #BlackLivesMatter organization is political, the idea is not. I do not see an issue with an employee wearing that to work. #RIPTacoBell.

— Carmine Sabia (@CarmineSabia) June 18, 2020

So wearing a #BlackLivesMatter mask that assets your humanity can get you fired from Taco Bell. In other news, this was the San Antonio Police Dept. in MAGA hats in 2016. #RIPTacoBell pic.twitter.com/yrkEfPldyx

— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) June 18, 2020

I'm all for canceling Taco Bell but can we take it a step further and cancel capitalism?

This isn't a Taco Bell problem, it's a capitalism problem

You can't address systematic racism while leaving capitalism alone #RIPTacoBell

— Joe Biden is a Jennifer Rubin Democrat 🍽 (@FlyThaiMMA) June 18, 2020

#RIPTacoBell just went there last night just heard the news pic.twitter.com/d9W1Pn1utj

— JeWop (@itsjeezybaby) June 18, 2020

So we “cant” wear anything associated with BLM these big corporations call it politics when this is our life we cant help being black...#RIPTacoBell

— T. (@KnownasElyse) June 18, 2020

"You cant bring politics into the workplace"

Crazy that someones entire, daily lived experience is reduced to "politics"#RIPTacoBell #TacoBellIsOverParty #tacobell https://t.co/7nK2WEsJAP

— 🌹JNTX🌹 (@EYSP9377) June 18, 2020

When will these people and businesses understand that fighting for black lives is not political? They only call it political because they want to ignore the problem of racism in this country. Stop spending your money at and working for these people #RIPTacoBell #BlackLivesMatter

— #BlackLivesMatter✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽 (@kay_ixi) June 18, 2020

Photojournalist Seph Lawless tweeted: "I have a BIG problem with businesses not letting people wear anything with #BlackLivesMatters on it. I can't wait for the first person that tries to tell me to take off my BLM t-shirt. It's time we normalized this movement I wanna see #BLM everywhere in public."

Author Jack Wallen added: "Businesses need to open their eyes and realize we're at critical mass with social tension. Now is not the time to show their asses and fire employees for being aware and awake. If they don't support their workers, the masses won't support their bottom line."

Media commentator Dean Obeidallah wrote: "White supremacy is telling a person that saying or wearing a mask that states 'Black Lives Matter' is political or divisive."

On June 12, a crowd of protesters gathered outside the Taco Bell on Belmont Avenue, where Skinner worked, reported the Tribune Chronicle.

"If it takes me losing my job where I've been for eight years to fight for change, then that's what it takes," Skinner told the crowd.

taco bell
A Taco Bell employee delivers an order to a customer at the drive-up window of the restaurant on March 31, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty