Grocery Chain Reverses Course After Prohibiting American Flag Masks for Employees

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Grocery store chain Food Lion came under fire when they told a 69-year-old employee, who is an Air Force Veteran, that he could not wear his American flag mask.

Gary Dean was told by his manager that he couldn’t wear his mask after a customer was offended by it and complained. Rather than tell the employee to take off the mask, the manager should have told the customer to shop elsewhere.

WECT News reported that Gary Dean decided to resign rather than go against his values and patriotism.

Food Lion initially stuck to their guns and issued the following statement:

“At Food Lion, we have great respect for the American flag. Like many other organizations, we also have policies that guide the attire and conduct of associates in the workplace. As part of our effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the well-being of our associates and customers, we’ve required associates to either wear reusable face masks provided by Food Lion or choose to wear a different face covering while working. However, all face coverings must adhere to standards set by the company and communicated to each of our more than 77,000 associates. The policy prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia or symbols. The dress code is meant to ensure a consistent and professional representation of our associates inside of our stores.”

After receiving a lot of feedback and doing some listening, Food Lion has, wisely, changed their policy.

“Food Lion has the utmost respect for the American flag and has a proud, long history of partnering with and supporting military organizations and communities. Over the past few days, we have been listening to our associates and customers about Food Lion’s mask policy as part of our uniform standards. As COVID-19 spread, Food Lion worked to protect its associates by making masks available to be worn as part of their uniform. While we continue to maintain our uniform standards requiring associates to wear masks without writing, insignia or symbols, we will allow associates to wear masks with the American flag that meet this standard. We appreciate and thank our more than 77,0000 associates who are working hard every day to safely nourish our neighbors in the towns and cities we serve.”

It is unknown if Mr. Dean will get his job back or even wants it back after all the drama.

Honestly, I have no problem with a company having a dress code for their masks. I went into an Office Depot recently and the employee had on a Trump mask. Obviously, *I* wasn’t offended, but I’m sure his mask irked about 50% of the customers. This is just not a good business decision.  However, an American flag in America should always be okay.

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