Ma’Kiya Congious, a former employee at a Whataburger in Fort Worth, Texas, has filed a discrimination complaint against the company, alleging she was fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask to work.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the incident started on Aug. 4. Congious had gone into work when she said a white woman complained about her Black Lives Matter mask.
Congious explained that she has worn the mask before, but never experienced any issues until that day. In fact, she says the district manager saw her in the parking lot when he arrived and never said anything to her about the mask.
This changed when the woman said she was going to call corporate to complain. According to the report, Congious was then told the mask was inappropriate and she could no longer wear it at work.
“Whataburger wants you to wear a mask that has no opinions whatsoever on them,” the manager said in a recording Congious took “You’re entitled to your personal opinions, that’s fine. But at Whataburger we don’t want to portray them because some people may be offended. This is a big business. … Whataburger doesn’t want to get into anything political because we’re just hamburgers and fries.”
Congious, who said in her complaint that she was just considering all her options, asked the manager how she could request two weeks’ notice.
The manager apparently wouldn’t even give her that.
“You want to put your two weeks notice in? We accept it and you don’t have to come back at all,” the manager said.
When all was said and done, managers called the police on Congious because she kept on asking what their response to her question meant.
On Wednesday, Congious spoke out about her case at a press conference saying that she wants to create change. In her complaint, she is calling on Whataburger to allow Black Lives Matter masks, challenging the CEO to say “Black Lives Matter to Whataburger” on social media, and demanding the company provide more implicit bias training among other initiatives.
“It’s not a political thing,” Congious said about her mask. “It’s just a statement that says ‘Black Lives Matter’ because we do matter.”
“I do have a 5-month-old baby and as he comes up in the world, I don’t want him to experience anything like this at all,” she added.
Whataburger released a statement saying that the police was called because “the employee began to make threats to our restaurant management.”
“Whataburger supports racial equality,” the statement added. “This is simply a matter of enforcing our uniform policy. Whataburger employees are provided company-issued masks that comply with our policy and adhere to CDC and local government guidance.”
The company policy, which doesn’t mention political statements, only mandates “plain or work-appropriate patterned bandanas or other cloth material.”
“Federal and state law make it illegal to discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of their employment because of their race and color. We believe that’s what the evidence will show Whataburger did when they mistreated Ma’Kiya for wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ mask,” Congious’ lawyer, Jason Smith said.
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