Lowe’s has apologized after a teen employee claimed he was ordered to change his “Black Panther” shirt because a customer complained that it was racist.
Kyle Sales was working at the Bonney Lake, Wash., Lowe’s last weekend when he said a woman came in and complained to his supervisor about his shirt, which featured the phrase “Wakanda Forever,” a saying used in the superhero movie.
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“She goes, ‘A customer said your shirt is offensive and racist,’” Sales, who is Black, said to KIRO7, quoting his supervisor. “This is from a movie. How is this racist?”
Sales claims he was given an ultimatum to either go home and change or buy a new shirt to put over his existing one. Though angry by the situation, the employee, who had only been working there for a few months to save money for college in the fall, decided to put a sports jersey on, the local outlet reported.
While Sales complied with the request, the customer was apparently not happy and demanded to know what punishment he had received.
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According to Sales, the woman came in the next day “throwing a fit” and asking, “What happened to that kid; what was his punishment?”
Sales said he was angry at the incident and was reminded of other racist encounters he has had in his community with people calling him the N-word.
His mother was also disappointed in the response from Lowe’s, calling the matter “unadulterated discrimination” aimed at her son.
Lowe’s did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but did say in a statement to KIRO7 that the hardware store had apologized to Sales, and said the teenager should not have been asked to change in the first place.
“Mr. Sales should never have been asked to change his shirt, and we have apologized to him directly,” a Lowe’s spokesperson said. “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.”
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“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.”