A Lowe’s employee was left stunned when they were verbally reprimanded by their supervisor and ordered to change out of their shirt. Apparently, a customer had complained that the shirt was “offensive,” leaving the employee even more confused.
Kyle Sales, an 18-year-old employee of Lowe’s, was working a weekend shift at the Bonney Lake, Washington location after taking a job at the hardware store a few months prior. Kyle had recently graduated high school and was working to save money before beginning college at Washington State University when a supervisor wanted to speak with him. Much to his surprise, his supervisor was pulling him aside to discuss his attire because a customer had allegedly found it not only “offensive” but “racist.”
“She goes, ‘A customer said your shirt is offensive and racist,'” Kyle recalled, but the remark only further confused the teen. The issue centered around his shirt, which was from the widely seen “Black Panther” superhero movie. The t-shirt read, “Black Panther: Prepare for Battle” on the front with “Wakanda Forever” on the back. The latter is a saying used in the superhero movie, prompting Kyle to explain, “This is from a movie,” and ask, “How is this racist?”
Rather than give Kyle an answer to the question, his supervisor verbally reprimanded the teen and gave him an ultimatum: Kyle could either buy a new shirt or go home and change. Either way, the allegedly “racist” and “offensive” shirt needed to be removed after the customer’s complaint, the supervisor told Kyle, according to KIRO 7.
Although Kyle didn’t agree with the supervisor, the customer, or the assessment of the situation, he decided to go home and do as he was asked, but he wasn’t happy about it. In fact, he was furious. “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,” Kyle explained. “This isn’t racist. I shouldn’t be punished for a t-shirt from a movie.”
After covering up the superhero shirt with a sports jersey, Kyle returned to Lowe’s, but sadly, that wasn’t the end of it, according to the NY Post. Instead, the female customer who complained allegedly returned the next day to inquire about Kyle’s punishment for wearing the shirt, the teen said he was told by a friend. “She came in throwing a fit, saying, ‘What happened to that kid; what was his punishment?'” he said.
Both Kyle and his mother, Kimberly, felt that Lowe’s had discriminated against the teen. According to Kyle, the incident reminded him of the discrimination he faced in high school, where kids had called him the N-work, and at one of his previous jobs, where a manager referred to him as a “colored boy.” Kimberly agreed, calling the incident “pure, unadulterated discrimination,” and saying that Lowe’s owed her son “more than an apology.” An apology was what he got, though.
According to Fox News, Lowe’s admitted that the teen should not have been asked to change and said in a statement to the outlet that the hardware store had apologized to Kyle. “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.”
The spokesperson added that the incident was in contrast to the culture Lowe’s cultivates among its employees. “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,” the spokesperson explained.
As for those wondering why Kyle didn’t have on one of the company’s signature vests, which would have prevented the ordeal, to begin with, the teen explained, “You have to earn those.” Perhaps Lowe’s should rethink that policy or, at minimum, request that employees wear plain shirts, without logos or sayings. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if their supervisors can’t accurately determine whether a Disney superhero shirt is appropriate, it’s time to implement easier standards for their staff and supervisors to follow.
However, the real issue here is with the customer who created the chaos, in my opinion, since the supervisor was likely trying to extinguish an issue as quickly as possible in order for everyone to get back to their jobs. Even though the incident originally took place in 2020, there’s a reason we are still sharing it today. Hopefully, the story of Kyle Sales and his “racist” and “offensive” shirt can serve as a reminder for all the complaining “Karens,” who spew anger and vitriol, that they aren’t making the world a better place. Instead, their ignorance further divides society, so it might be time they keep their grossly inaccurate opinions to themselves.