Posted on September 26, 2020

She Wore a BLM Mask to Work at Whataburger. After a Customer Complained, She Lost Her Job.

Teo Armus, Washington Post, September 24, 2020

The first day Ma’Kiya Congious wore her Black Lives Matter mask to work, no one seemed to bat an eye. In fact, several customers at the Whataburger location in Fort Worth complimented her on the face covering, which is also emblazoned with a fist.

But when the Black 19-year-old returned to work the following Monday, a White customer threatened to call the hamburger chain’s corporate office over the mask, she said, prompting a chain of events that led Congious to lose her job and her managers to call the police on their own employee.

As Whataburger insists it did nothing wrong and was in fact accepting Congious’ resignation, the former cashier filed a discrimination complaint Wednesday with Texas state officials. She alleges she was let go specifically because of her race and the message on her mask.


Following a summer of nationwide protests against racial injustice, her incident is the latest in a long string of episodes in which employers have disciplined workers over masks expressing support for the movement.

In San Antonio last week, a charter school fired an art teacher who refused to stop wearing Black Lives Matter masks to her classroom. A Milwaukee pizza store owner terminated and then physically scuffled with a delivery driver who insisted on keeping the message on his face coverings.

And in late July, 14 workers at Whole Foods locations across four states filed a class-action lawsuit against the supermarket chain, charging that the company retaliated against them for wearing BLM masks and pins. {snip}


On July 31, when Congious first showed up to work wearing the BLM mask, managers at her store located in a historically Black part of town did not raise any concerns, she said in her complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission.

It was not until the following Monday, when a White customer complained and made the threat to contact the chain’s headquarters, that Congious’s managers sat her and other co-workers down and said they had to wear masks with “no opinions whatsoever on them.”


In the midst of an increasingly heated conversation, she asked the supervisors how to request her two weeks’ notice.

“You want to put your two weeks’ notice in?” a manager responded, according to the recording shared with The Washington Post. “We accept it, and you don’t have to come back at all.”

Congious had not yet decided to quit, she later clarified in her complaint, and merely wanted to ask about her options. But when she pushed back to her supervisors and remained inside the store, they called the police on her, she said. Five cars responded to the scene, and Congious left and did not return to work.

The company said in a statement that Congious had “voluntarily resigned due to a disagreement over our company uniform policy” {snip}