Food Lion Changes Policy After Telling Veteran Not to Wear American Flag Mask

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“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,” the company said in a Facebook post.

Last week, 69-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran Gary Dean left his job at the Food Lion in Havelock claiming the store manager told him he was not allowed to wear a mask with the American flag printed on it because someone was offended, according to Breitbart News.

Dean reportedly wore the mask for months until his manager spoke with him on Tuesday.

“Apparently corporate came down and said ‘somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering,'” the veteran claimed.

In a statement at the time, Food Lion said it had “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.

“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. I had to quit, out of principle,” Dean told ABC 11.

Once the story got so much attention, the grocery chain said it listened to associates and customers regarding the uniform policy and would allow masks with the American flag that met its standards:

“It’s unclear if Dean will go back to his job in Havelock after this policy change,” the ABC 11 report concluded.