Wawa worker: I quit because I couldn’t wear Black Lives Matter mask
MOUNT LAUREL — A Wawa employee says he quit after being told to remove his Black Lives Matter face mask while on duty Saturday.
The father of Andre Lynch III, who is also named Andre Lynch, on a GoFundMe page said he son was told he could not wear anything that with Black Lives Matter written on it while working at the store on Route 38 in Mount Laurel.
Andre Lynch III told NBC Philadelphia that he was told by a manager to remove the mask, which he said read “Black Lives Matter," "Say My Name" and “I Can’t Breathe," after about two hours. He said he was handed another mask he could wear, or leave.
The 20-year-old told NBC Philadelphia he chose to quit.
In a statement via spokeswoman Lori Bruce, Wawa told New Jersey 101.5 that "Wawa believes Black lives matter. We have posted signage in our stores and we are providing our associates with pins early next week as a way to express their support within uniform guidelines, if they choose to."
"We look forward to sharing more information about the additional actions we are taking and direct you to wawa.com to learn more about the steps we've already taken to support our Black associates and communities," Bruce said.
Her message didn't specifically address whether and how Lynch's mask violated a dress code, or say what would be on the signage and pins. She hasn't yet returned a follow-up message send Monday morning, seeking more information.
Lynch told NBC Philadelphia he is still considering an offer from Wawa to return, but has been told he still wouldn't be allowed to wear his Black Lives Matter mask.
His father said on the GoFundMe page the fundraiser was started "so that he can see that all good human beings are with him. I'm proud of him and I want him to know that he did the right thing. #StandForEquality."
The elder Lynch has not yet return a message send to the GoFundMe page seeking more informaiton.
Employees and customers are required to wear face coverings inside all New Jersey retail establishments per an executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy issued due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
New Jersey 101.5 staff has seen Wawa employees wearing a variety of face coverings with designs ranging from the company name and sports teams to phrases and funny sayings, at stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
A cashier at a Bucks County Wawa wore a mask that read "I hate this" — presumably about wearing a mask itself.
President and CEO Chris Gheysens in a message dated June 5 on the company website wrote that the "senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others reflects the tragic reality of racial injustice in our communities."
Gheysens said he also recognized that "words without action do little. This is an issue that affects all of us, and we have a responsibility to address this head on."
"We will listen even more carefully to our Black associates to better understand our own issues and work together to solve them. This won’t be a one-time effort. Rather, it will be a renewed, ongoing and elevated commitment to create more dialogue and an environment that is fully inclusive," Gheysens wrote.
The company also made a "multi-year pledge" of $100,000 yearly donations to the National Urban League.
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