Lowe’s apologized after a teen employee was forced to change out of a “Black Panther” shirt because a customer claimed it was racist.
Kyle Sales was wearing a shirt that read “Black Panther Wakanda Forever” last weekend while working at a store in Bonney Lake, Washington, when a manager pulled him aside and asked him to change.
“She goes, ‘a customer said your shirt is offensive and racist,’” the 19-year-old told KIRO @7. “This is from a movie. How is this racist?”
Sales was upset but he decided to go home and put a jersey on over the shirt.
“I was very angry. It just did not seem fair in light of all of the things that are happening in our in the world right now,” he said. “This isn’t racist. I shouldn’t be punished for a T-shirt from a movie.”
The change wasn’t the end of the ordeal. A coworker told Sales the woman came back the next day to ask if he was punished.
“She came in throwing a fit saying, ‘What happened to that kid — What was his punishment?’” Sales recounted.
Lowe’s addressed the issue in a statement to the media and revealed the company has already spoken to Sales.
“Mr. Sales should never have been asked to change his shirt, and we have apologized to him directly. We know this is a teachable moment, and we will take action to coach and train the managers at the store to help prevent this from happening again,” the statement read. “Diversity and inclusion are important to our culture at Lowe’s, and we remain committed to fostering an environment where all individuals are safe, treated fairly, valued and respected.”
Sales’ mother Kimberly believes the company owes her son more than an apology.