A server from California has been fired from her job at a trendy California restaurant after refusing to stop wearing a Black Lives Matter face mas
A server from California has been fired from her job at a trendy California restaurant after refusing to stop wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask.
Kimi Stout from Sonoma in the northern part of the state had worked at The Girl & The Fig for several months before being furloughed in March.
She resumed her job once dining reopened in California in September after a summer of protests involving the Black Lives Matter movement had taken place.
Server Kimi Stout wore a Black Lives Matter face mask and a guest complained
The Girl & The Fig restaurant introduced a mask policy requiring all workers to wear plain masks and none with any ‘political messaging’
Keen to show her support for ‘marginalized people’ she decided to wear the face mask while at work.
For several shifts no comment was made by anybody at the restaurant and on one occasion even the president of the company, John Toulze, told her outright that he supported the message behind the mask.
On another occasion, she was pulled aside by a manager and told that a diner had complained and become aggressive after seeing her wearing the ‘politically charged’ mask.
‘He said, ‘you’re not in trouble by any means,’ said Stout to SFGate. ‘However, we just wanted to let you know that we did have somebody complain about your mask and they were very aggressive about it.’
Stout, who had previously received support from the head of the company over her mask then refused to switch her BLM face mask for a plain one while working her server shifts
She ended up resigning over the matter and posted a video on Instagram that showed her taking off her restaurant t-shirt and placing it in the trash
A few days later the restaurant decided to implement a dress code mask policy for all of its workers that required them to either wear a specially branded restaurant mask or a plain black or blue one to go with their uniforms.
‘I got a text notification saying ‘new mask policy in place, everybody sign,’ said Stout. ‘I’m not saying that they wrote the policy for me, but I felt very targeted when I read it. I decided that I was going to wear my mask anyway, because as far as I knew, the president of the company, I had his 100% support.’
Stout, believing she had already received prior permission from the head of the company did not take any notice of the requirements and continued to wear her BLM face mask.
The company’s president saw what she was wearing and asked her to turn her mask inside out in order to obscure the logo.
Stout refused whereupon Toulze told her to come to his office at the end of her shift in order to tell her directly that she needed to fall into line with all the other workers in the restaurant and to wear a plain face mask.
Stout posted her collection of Black Lives Matter face masks on her Instagram account
Stout adapted this N95 mask to support ‘Black Trans Lives’
‘He told me, ‘We have a new mask policy in place, and we need you to abide by that,’ said Stout. ‘And you know, I can’t make exceptions, because if I make an exception for you, someone may come in tomorrow with another political mask, and I just can’t have that. We can’t be aligning ourselves anywhere politically.’
Toulze explained that if she showed up wearing the same mask to work the following day, she would be sent home.
‘I regret to say that I told him, you know, let’s just call it now,’ said Stout. ‘I don’t want to cause a scene. I don’t want to cause drama.’
Stout refused and handed in her notice.
She posted a video to Instagram of her taking off her restaurant branded T-shirt and throwing it in the bin, before sticking two fingers up at the trash can, with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ superimposed over the screen.
Although the incident happened in September, Stout only recently made the video public on her Instagram page.
‘On September 3rd, 2020, I was forced out of my position as a server at The Girl and the Fig restaurant in Sonoma, CA for refusing to remove my ‘Black Lives Matter’ mask after a new mask policy was put into place. I was told by the president of the company that if I did not change my mask I would not be allowed to work and that BLM is ‘too political’. I asked him why I was being forced out when only three weeks previous he said I had his ‘100% support’. He simply responded, ‘Yes I did, but that was before the policy.’ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Happy New Year, friends. Spend your money selectively,’ Stout wrote.
Stout says she has since found a new job after briefly collecting unemployment
Company president and chef John Toulze told DailyMail.com that Stout left of her own accord and was not fired from her job.
‘Nobody was fired from our restaurant. We had a uniform policy with masks becoming part of that attire. We provided our servers N95, surgical masks and the option to wear one displaying the company logo, but all servers were told that these were the only options. It’s not about Black Lives Matter, it’s out uniform. I would have said the same thing had a server shown up wearing flip flops instead of shoes,’ Toulze said.
The restaurant which has counts Lady Gaga and some Bachelor contestants among its past customers, has also released a formal statement regarding the incident.
‘We were disappointed to learn that a valued employee no longer wanted to continue employment with The Girl & The Fig after we created the face mask policy and resigned because they could not use their uniform to express support for this important cause.
Stout accused the restaurant of mixed messages after she believed she has received tacit approval to wear the mask from company president and chef John Toulze
‘The Girl & The Fig is founded by diverse ownership and prides itself on employing and supporting a diverse workforce. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and sincerely agree that we all have a responsibility to take action to dismantle systemic racism and injustice in our society.’
Stout, meanwhile, collected unemployment for the short period of time that she was out of work but has since found a new job.
She said that being ‘forced out’ affected her.
‘It’s just cognitive dissonance. It really affected me that they preached, you know, inclusivity and family and together we’re stronger. And yet they disagreed with me so much that during a pandemic, they forced me out.
‘I want this to be about Black Lives Matter,’ said Stout. ‘I don’t want it to be about me and ‘oh, this girl lost her job.’ Don’t worry about me: worry about the fact that a very busy restaurant actively forced out somebody showing support for marginalized lives.’