A disabled teenaged girl, her mother, and the nurse helping them were kicked out of a Whole Foods Market in Vienna, Virginia after it was pointed out to the staff that the teen was not wearing a facemask due to having a medical exemption.
Teresa Schultz, whose 14-year-old daughter has high-tone cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair because she is quadriplegic, told The Federalist that two employees approached her family and told them to leave.
“They said, ‘You can’t be here with her,’ and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ They said she had to have a mask on and I said, ‘Can’t you see she is in a wheelchair and is exempt from the mandate?’ I told them that it’s the law. [One of the employees] said it wasn’t and I said that you don’t want to go here,” Schultz told The Federalist. “I didn’t want to get my daughter upset because she is nonverbal. He said we have to leave, so we just left. I was so upset, and the nurse and I were like having heart palpitations. We were so upset. Never in the last year have we been asked to leave anywhere, and nobody has even questioned it because it is very apparent that my daughter is in a wheelchair, is nonverbal, and cannot wear a mask.”
As the Federalist reported, Teresa’s daughter, Mary, is exempt from wearing a mask under section E, clause eight of Virginia’s amended mask mandate, which is in effect until June 20, 2021:
“Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a mask by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition …Any person who declines to wear a mask because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.”
“We’ve tried to put a mask on her, but she just rips it off her face. She won’t tolerate it. Our daughter does not have any fine or gross motor control, and she has a form of CP that is high-tone so her muscles are very tight,” John Schultz, Mary’s father, told The Federalist. “Groceries are an essential service and I would expect that if someone arrives on wheels that we get the benefit of the doubt. I can’t imagine this is the first time they’ve dealt with someone with medical issues not wearing a mask. It’s really odd.”
The parents of the girl have also said that other stores and grocers in the area have not forced their daughter to wear a mask or be removed from their premises. John, after quite a large amount of time on the phone, finally got through customer service to a manager who agreed with the family that the store should not have taken such drastic actions.
“When I first called the store I got the customer service manager, who happened to be the one who kicked Teresa and our daughter out of the store. I told him about the original mask mandate and the clause about persons with medical issues being exempt. I quoted it and he doubled down,” John told The Federalist. “…He bounced me to another manager in the store who apparently was senior to him, and he and an assistant manager told me that the person was wrong to kick me out of the store. It sounds like they need some staff training and some empathy. People like [my daughter] really should not be subject to this kind of treatment.”
A corporate spokeswoman for Whole Foods, Heather McCready, said: “I can confirm that the Vienna Store Team Leader has reached out to the family, apologized for their experience, and had a good conversation with them. We look forward to welcoming them back to our store.”