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Carvel ice cream store manager claims boss fired him for refusing to serve unmasked, coughing customer. Carvel owner says he's lying.


'Coughing loud, like a wet cough'

Image source: WABC-TV video screenshot

A Carvel ice cream manager from New York is reportedly out of a job after he refused to serve a customer who was coughing a wet cough without wearing a mask.

The franchise's co-owner — the manager's boss — says that she never fired the employee and that he quit after being rude to a customer.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued a mandate several months ago requiring all residents to wear face coverings in public settings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the details?

According to WABC-TV, former manager Thomas DeSarle says he was working on the evening of July 11 when an unmasked male customer entered a Long Island Carvel location.

The unnamed customer was reportedly "coughing loud, like a wet cough" into his hand.

"I heard a customer coughing in the front of the store, so I walked to the front," DeSarle said. "He was standing there coughing on his hand. And again, coughing not to clear his throat."

He recalled asking the customer, "'Sir, do you have a mask?'"

"[He] didn't respond to me," DeSarle said. "I said, 'Sir, can I get you a mask?' All he did was keep looking up at the board, trying to order."

It only got worse from there, according to the former manager, when the customer attempted to move closer to DeSarle and pay with a "sweaty $10 bill."

DeSarle says he was unable to take the man's money out of fear of the potential for getting sick.

Management reportedly fired DeSarle after he refused to serve the man.

"I was told that if it was too scary to work here no more, too scary to work here, you don't have to work here anymore. And I was terminated from my job," he recalled.

DeSarle also said that his manager reportedly demanded he serve customers even if they weren't wearing masks because the store was reportedly losing too much money.

The former manager, who hired an attorney, said that it isn't right that the store fired him for "following rules and for following state guidelines."

"We have a few options," his attorney, Jon Bell, said. "First is filing a complaint on the state website with Cuomo, we're considering that. Or we may go file a state action with a whistleblower violation."

What is the co-owner saying now?

On Monday, the New York Post reported that DeSarle's manager, identified as co-owner Annie Chen, refused to comment on the matter and referred the outlet to Carvel's corporate office.

Chen, however, told Newsday on Tuesday that DeSarle's account is inaccurate at best.

She said that DeSarle was rude to the customer and shouted at him, refused to provide a mask to the man, and then quit three days after the incident.

"He yelled at the customer very loudly," Chen said. "I told the manager that 'You can't talk that way.' Just talk to the customer politely."

Chen insisted, "Nobody fired him."

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