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Publix employee barred from wearing Black Lives Matter face mask while at work

Jake Allen
Fort Myers News-Press
Amid nationwide protests and rallies, a Lehigh Acres man was recently told by his assistant manager at Publix that he could not wear a face mask supporting the Black Lives Matters movement while at work.
Quinton Desamours, 18, worked at the Publix on Lee Boulevard in Lehigh Acres for about 1½ months before the incident.
After attending a rally in Fort Myers the day before, Desamours went into work on June 6 with a face mask that had “BLM” for Black Lives Matter written on it.
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After clocking in, Desamours’ assistant manager noticed the mask and pulled him aside to talk to him, Desamours said.
"He told me that I was endangering myself and everybody else who worked there,” Desamours said. “Then he said he couldn't have me out on the floor with that mask on.”
Desamours said he was left with no other options, so he left work and called back later to inform the company he was quitting.
"We have to make people uncomfortable to get change,” Desamours said.
Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix, said associates at the company have been allowed to wear medical, surgical and dust masks as well as cloth face coverings until their uniform face coverings arrived, however the company does not permit non-Publix messaging in its uniform policy.
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Brous also referred to a letter from Publix CEO Todd Jones when asked about the incident.
“At Publix, we reject racism and discrimination of any kind,” a portion of the letter reads.
Desamours said he takes issue with the company claiming it rejects discrimination and racism because they wouldn’t let him take a stand on those very issues while in their uniform.
“It really hit my heart how many people showed up and showed out for the protest and the words that were spoken,” Desamours said.
“I had to portray a message and be part of the change that has to come to the country. I'm not trying to conform for any company or anybody because the change needs to happen now.”