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Grocery store chain says employees can't wear American flag masks because they're 'offensive' — it quickly changes course after backlash


Quick turnaround

Photo by Davis Turner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Carolina-based grocery chain Food Lion will now permit its employees to wear American flag-themed face masks while working at its stores.

The company went viral earlier this week after one of its employees revealed he quit after being told to avoid wearing his American flag-themed mask.

What are the details?

According to a recent report from WCTI-TV, the move appears to be in response to the employee — as well as his supporters — demanding such masks after the company initially prohibited them.

On Saturday, the company's Twitter page shared a status on the development, writing, "We listened to our associates and customers about our uniform policy. We require that associates wear masks without writing, insignia, or symbols. We will allow associates to wear masks with the American flag that meet this standard."

The company also promised that it "deeply respects the American flag."

Controversy initially brewed after employee Gary Dean, a 69-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran showed up to work at the Food Lion in Havelock wearing an American flag-printed mask.

Dean said that a store manager told him that someone found the mask offensive, and informed Dean that he could no longer wear the mask while working.

"As a veteran, my dad being a World War II hero, my best friend killed in Vietnam, out of respect for them, I can't just say, 'No, I'll take my flag and put it in my pocket," Dean said.

So instead, he quit — and his story began to gain traction across the internet.

Days later, the company changed its stance on the masks.

"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," a portion of a follow-up statement added. "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."

At the time of this writing, Dean said Food Lion officials have offered him his old position at the Havelock store, but he has yet to decide if he will return.

Veteran quits job over Food Lion face mask policywww.youtube.com

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