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Woman says she was fired for wearing a mask

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) – At KCTV5 News, we continue to hear from viewers concerned about their jobs.

We know many of you have lost your jobs, but others are concerned about how their employers are handling this crisis.

KCTV5 Investigative Reporter Angie Ricono said she is getting emails from employees who say they don’t think they should be going to work and that their employers are more concerned with profits than safety. They could work at home, but they are told to head in.

There’s also the young woman in Olathe who was recently fired for wearing a face mask to work.

Grayce Leeper said her mother told her she was risking her life going to work and that she needed to “wear a face mask during a pandemic.” Leeper said, “That seemed reasonable to me.”

However, the owner of the Scooter’s Coffee shop where Leeper worked did not see it that way. The Manager pointed out that’s not what the CDC advises. The manager also said masks are for sick people.

“I think it was a whole image thing,” Leeper said. She said she thinks it was about not scaring people off. However, she ultimately sees it differently.

“For them to ask me to take off my face mask when that company doesn’t even offer me health insurance was absolutely heartbreaking to me,” Leeper said. “I was in tears.”

“I could take it off or get out, essentially,” Leeper said. “That was heartbreaking to me. I have worked there for over a year. I was devastated, I thought these were people I could trust.”

Tensions are high right now for both employees and employers.

We checked in with UK Law Professor Mikah Thompson, who teaches employment law.

“Employers are under a lot of pressure keep employees safe and keep their doors open,” Thompson said.

She advises calm face-to-face communication.

“Of course, an employee can quit a job but you don’t want that to be the solution,” Thompson said. “No one wants that.” She said people would rather keep their job and “just have things done in the safest way possible.”

If face-to-face communication doesn’t work, employees can turn to their human resources department. And, finally, there’s OSHA. That’s the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Employees do deserve a safe working environment. In the meantime, document what’s happening.

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