Worker says Wawa fired him for wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ mask
MOUNT LAUREL — A Wawa worker who was told he could not wear a "Black Lives Matter" mask has retained a lawyer who says the convenience store is discriminating against Black people.
Andre Lynch III said he was told by a manager to remove his mask, which also had "Say My Name" and "I Can't Breathe printed on it, after two hours on the job at the store on Route 38 on June 12. He said he was handed another mask he could wear but Lynch chose to leave.
Attorney William O. Wagstaff said Lynch was "terminated" by Wawa in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and in an action that sends a message that "Black lives do not matter to Wawa."
"We will not allow Wawa to get away with yet another token response to blatant systemic racism," Wagstaff said in a written statement. "The way Wawa treated Mr. Lynch provides evidence of the insights that inform companywide decisions on recruitment, retention, and the promotion of Black men and women. More telling, it speaks volumes of how they feel about communities of color."
Wawa spokeswoman Jennifer Wolf said "senior Wawa representatives reached out to Mr. Lynch the day after he left work to confirm his job remained open and that we wished to have him back to work."
Erica Dumas, a spokeswoman for Wagstaff's office, said Lynch was fired because he was given the ultimatum to either remove the mask or leave work.
"Mr. Lynch had been wearing the mask before and was never reprimanded," she said. "On June 12 he was told he can wear a mask but not that mask. So then he said 'are you telling me that I am fired?' Mr. Lynch not wearing the mask is a condition of his continued employment. Therefore this was a constructive termination."
Dumas said Lynch is considering legal action against Wawa but no lawsuit has been filed.
"It's Mr. Lynch's hope that they would act responsibly and obviate a lawsuit," Dumas said.
Wagstaff wants Wawa to "implement impactful changes to combat the systemic racism and oppression experienced by their Black employees while at work and in their communities."
Wawa's spokeswoman said the company has a "long-standing commitment to our associates and communities. Wawa strongly believes Black lives matter."
She said the chain has provided all employees with optional Black Lives Matters pins to wear and has digital signage in all 900 stores "sharing the message that Black lives matter."
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