A former employee of a fast-food chain in Texas has filed a lawsuit claiming she was forced out of her job for wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask.
The suit alleges that Ma’Kiya Congious, a Black woman, was reprimanded for wearing the face covering during a shift at a Whataburger restaurant in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex on August 4, 2020.
Congious claims that she was previously allowed to wear the BLM face mask while working at the burger chain.
According to her, the problem arose when a white customer threatened to file a claim over the face covering.
According to the lawsuit, her manager said that she would have to wear a generic mask at work in the future. However, other employees were allowed to wear whatever face coverings they wanted, including one with the Mexican flag.
Congious was able record some of her conversation to the unnamed manager, who, according the Fort Worth Star–Telegram, said to Congious: “Whataburger wants to see you wear masks with no opinions whatsoever.”
“You have the right to your opinions, that’s okay. Whataburger doesn’t want to show them because it may offend some people. This is a huge business. Whataburger does not want to get involved in politics because we are just hamburgers and fries.
According to the Star-Telegram report, Congious then began to consider her options and asked her manager about the process for requesting two weeks’ notice.
She asserts that the manager said to her: “You want your two-week notice in? It’s okay, we accept it and you don’t have to return at all.”
Congious sought an explanation for this comment from her supervisor, and the lawsuit claims that she called the police.
Congious filed an initial discrimination complaint against Whataburger through the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division. It sent her a Right to Sue notice.
Congious claims she launched the lawsuit only after Whataburger refused to honor her request for “5 steps of actions,” which she issued in September 2020 one month after the incident.
These measures included allowing employees wearing Black Lives Matter masks to work without fear of harassment, and allowing the CEO to declare that “Black Lives Matter To Whataburger” via social media.
She wanted implicit bias training to be offered to current managers, as well as for new employees. She also wanted the fast-food chain to introduce implicit bias training for current managers and new hires, and for the company to mark “>Juneteenth” in its restaurants.
Congious filed a lawsuit against Whataburger after she failed to take the required actions.
She stated in a statement that “Whataburger’s actions sends the message they don’t believe Black Lives Matter”
After years and years of being treated as if they were not important in this country, “Black Lives Matter” is a fact. This simple statement is a sad threat to this corporation. Would you feel secure working for a company that treated your life as irrelevant?
Fort Worth attorney Jason C.N. represents Congious Smith.
Smith stated that Whataburger cannot discriminate against employees based on their race or color in terms and conditions of employment.
Whataburger chose a Black employee to wear a “Black Lives Matter” mask, while allowing other non Black employees to use masks that had nothing at all to do with burgers or fries.
In a statement issued to the Star-Telegram after the incident, Whataburger said the company had accepted Congious’ resignation and paid her for her two weeks of scheduled work.
According to the company, “Whataburger supports equality of race,” it stated to the news agency. It is only a matter to enforce our uniform policy. Whataburger employees are provided company-issued masks that comply with our policy and adhere to CDC and local government guidance.”