Former Home Depot employee claims he was fired for confronting customers who were not wearing masks

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SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – In Salt Lake County, it’s required people wear a mask in public places. And now, a former Home Depot employee said he was allegedly fired for trying to enforce that policy with customers.

The former employee – who does not want to be identified – said he was fired on Wednesday after confronting two customers who were not wearing a mask.

“We had a customer in more of the heavily trafficked isles, who was coughing,” he said. “And it caught my attention, and I asked him if he would like a mask. And he had some difficulty understanding me, but he seemed to agree.”

When the man went to give the customer a mask, he said he noticed another person not wearing one.

“I saw another customer walking toward this coughing man without a mask, so I offered him a mask as well, and he agreed,” he said.

Even though the former employee — of more than 13 years — admitted he had been cited for previous customer service-related incidents, he claims he was fired by asking customers to wear masks in his store.

A Home Depot termination letter states that on July 13th, the employee “confronted a customer and told them they were required to wear a mask, this was poor customer service and caused the customer to be upset”.

A Home Depot investigation determined “that this conduct violated company policy” and therefore, the man was terminated.

ABC4 News reached out to Home Depot who declined to specifically respond about their policy on an employee’s roll in customer relations and wearing of masks.  

While signs are hung at Home Depot asking customers to comply with the county’s order, the former employee said an assistant manager told him why they are not enforcing it.

“He said that our district manager has instructed management not to enforce mask wearing at our stores, fearing confrontation with others,” he said. And that “they said that they can’t enforce it, or they won’t enforce it, because cops are not going to respond to irate customers anyway. And we can’t pry into their health records or ask them whether they are exempt.”

To better understand Salt Lake County’s mandatory mask order, ABC4 News reached out to Nicholas Rupp with the county health department who said, “Businesses are expected to follow public health order requiring face coverings on both customers and employees.”

He continues to say businesses should enforce the order the same way they enforce any other rules for customers.

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And as far as confronting a shopper, Rupp said, “We do ask businesses to not get into a confrontation over it; it is not worth that.”

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Hailey Hendricks
Hailey graduated from Utah State University in broadcast journalism. She was nominated for a student Emmy and also won a Society of Professional Journalist (SPJ) award for her work on the show ‘Cache Rendezvous.’ She was also nominated for an SPJ on suicide prevention.

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