PCC Community Markets

Threatened by Manager to Leave For No-Mask

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Published: 13 September 2020

Posted by: Jess Wen

To Whom it May Concern,

The week of September 6th, I entered into PCC Community Markets with the intent to make a return/exchange, and also, to make a couple purchases. I was unable to do this, however, and feel as if I were targeted for not wearing a mask: first by an unruly customer and second by a male employee who I later learned was the Store Manager, Mr. Drew Hunter. This is described below:

Upon entering the store, I was not wearing a mask. My decision to do so is based on factual medical evidence regarding my personal respiratory health, mental health, along with personal decision making which includes common sense and my personal health history.

While inside PCC Community Markets, I walked past some folks in
line to get to the far line where I intended to make a return of a couple items. On my way to do so, a white elderly female began to scream something at me. All I heard is ’mask’ (had earbuds in) and saw her flare up out of the corner of my eye. Her anger towards me equated to creating a hostile shopping environment for customers. While she may think one thing about a person’s non-mask wearing, flaring up, screaming, and getting irate at the person for exercising what is best for his health is a waste of breath. She has no authority to physically place a mask on anyone.

As I approached the end aisle to attempt to return a couple items (one is a PCC brand item and must be returned at the store), I heard the loudspeaker go off. Given the woman screaming at me, I figured that PCC had developed some sort of ’code’ to identify *cough* target people who are not wearing masks. Sure enough, about a minute or so later a younger heavier set white male with dark hair shows up. He was wearing a name tag which stated, ”Drew.”

It was difficult for me to hear exactly what he was saying, because he kept his mask on the entire time while trying to communicate with me. I did hear him scream through the mask that I needed to leave the store. I asked to speak with the store manager, and he said, ”I am the store manager.”

When I attempted to tell him I have a qualifying medical condition that allows for a mask exemption, he kept iterating, ”this is our store policy.” I explained to him very firmly that a.) I have shopped at PCC Community Market stores without a mask and b.) I have a medical exemption c.) that my purchases pay his paycheck.

After I told him specifically, ”my purchase goes towards your paycheck” he screamed, ”no it doesn’t.” This, of course, is incorrect because it most certainly does. The most recent receipt I have from PCC Community Markets is for just under $200 USD.

I felt as if Mr. Hunter was intentionally trying to antagonize and intimidate me in front of an entire store of people to make them feel better, as opposed to get facts and deescalate a situation in a private setting. During the time of his rushing up to ’save the day’ where he yelled at me (a paying customer), 2 small children were in a line adjacent to me.

I was so uncomfortable and intimidated by Mr. Hunter, because he did not calmly ask me to step aside to have a conversation. He showed up, reacted to the situation, responded to nothing, and sought no clarification or understanding – essentially ”Grocery Store SWAT.” To Mr. Hunter, the non-mask wearing was non-negotiable and his aim was to get me out as quickly as possible and to make it ’known’ to the public ’who is in charge.’ Essentially, segregating me from the others.

When I politely asked if I could make the return, then leave (my attempt to ask for a reasonable accommodation), he screamed: ”NO”. He did offer a mask, which was insulting because I should only have to say I have a medical condition once. I stood there and blankly stared at Mr. Hunter, to which he screamed in front of EVERYONE: ”If you don’t leave I am going to call the police.” I feel the situation escalated to an unnecessary degree of verbal violence which was his threat to ”call the police” to which I left. And, that he had some sort of hero complex he needed to fulfill – in front of everyone to showcase he was ’in charge.’This is all on the basis of simply exercising my right to freedom and right to my body’s innate liking and adaptation to not wearing a mask? How does he treat employees, if he treats paying customers with such contempt and disregard?

Had Mr. Hunter calmly walked aside and spoken *to* me, not *at* me, he would have learned I felt there was a hostile customer in the store. As he did not do this, I had no opportunity to give him information about how I felt harassed by the customer, who had no business speaking to me about my personal decision not to wear a mask. I would never want another person entering the store without a mask to feel threatened by another customer (or Mr. Hunter)! One can only put two and two together that via watching Mr. Hunter’s outburst at me, it would follow suit he could do the same to me, thus creating a gang-like vibe in the store & hostile shopping environment for anyone not wearing a mask. Us the Mask Wearers. vs ’Them’ the Non-Mask wearers.

Please keep in mind, under the ”Feasibility and Adaptations” section for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, it states, …”Some people, such as people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities, may have challenges wearing a mask. They should consult with their healthcare provider for advice about wearing masks….” (source:www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html). One may also consider this a violation of the American’s With Disabilities Act, if one’s not wearing a mask is a result of having a legitimate and documented medical condition that qualifies as being ’disabled.’

What if someone had a cognitive impairment (maybe a head trauma, dementia, schizophrenia) and was screamed at and threatened to leave by the store manager for non-compliance of the store’s presumption that one non-mask wearer could pose a direct threat to all simply by not wearing a mask? Even if someone’s medical condition was not related to a cognitive impairment, it is impossible to know what additional conditions can flare up during an intentional altercation. A presumed threat to the health and safety of others is not a direct threat or a real threat to the health of other people.

Remaining 6 feet apart with everyone else in the store wearing a mask, puts everyone in the store in a position of ’immune safety’. If someone is that paranoid about contracting a so-called deadly illness, he should remain at home. The store should not arbitrarily interpret and cherry pick the CDC guidelines and ADA guidelines to fit *their* agenda. Doing so, is doing a dis-service to anyone identifying as being a human being, gross violation of The American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990, and and anyone who legitimately has a medical condition qualifying as a ’disability.’

Food For Thought:

-What if someone has had previous distasteful encounters with law enforcement, and Mr. Hunter induced a post-traumatic stress episode in the individual by making threats to use them to remove the unwanted, non-mask wearing customer? Could this not be seen as adult bullying? Do you accept adult bullying as a legitimate form of business communication and business management?

-Are your taxpayer dollars meant to fund law enforcement to enforce arbitrarily interpreted laws by PCC Community Markets & the ’higher ups’ simply because the manager cannot control himself or make reasonable accommodations such as making a purchase return for a customer who stated he would leave?

-Do you desire to support a company who allows adult bullying, with threats to call law enforcement on the sole basis of the person not wearing a mask and refusing to leave (showcasing no verbal or physical threats towards others)? Remember: You vote with the dollar and your purchases pay the paycheck of ALL staff who support this type of behavior by ’management.’ And, the store’s environment comes from the top down.

-What if someone has stored trauma around the face/neck area from a car accident or other physical violence (maybe childhood trauma) and has panic episodes as a result? Would not screaming induce only more of the same trauma to this person?

(all examples are speculation, and not based necessarily on my personal medical condition)

Have a good day!

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