PULLMAN – Conflicts over whether customers should wear face masks led to the departure of an assistant manager and another employee at Kush 21.
Matthew Riley, an employee since 2018, accused the retailer’s owner of demoting and firing him because he tried to follow a state mandate requiring everyone to wear face masks inside public spaces.
While cannabis employees statewide have been required to wear masks, face shields or similar personal protection equipment since June, owner and general manager Michale Beraki initially said customers at the four Kush 21 stores around Washington were encouraged to wear face coverings but weren’t required to.
Beraki said making coverings mandatory was leading to “unnecessary altercations,” including an incident at the Sea-Tac store. He didn’t want his staff at any of the stores to get into fights with angry customers.
Riley said he refused to open the Pullman store June 26 after hearing Beraki’s policy, saying unmasked customers could create an unsafe environment for workers, as well as disobey a state public health mandate.
He said this led to his demotion to shift leader and then termination. Another employee gave her notice at the same time.
In early July, Beraki changed shop policies again due to clarification from Gov. Jay Inslee. Now, Kush 21 customers won’t be served unless they wear masks, which can be provided.
Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.