A disabled teenager, her mother, and her nurse were asked to leave a Whole Foods Market in Vienna, Virginia after staff noticed the teen wasn’t wearing a mask, even though she had 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 outlet. “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 outlet. “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 told the Federalist that other businesses, such as Home Depot and other grocery stores, have not tried to force their daughter to wear a mask or risk eviction from the property. John told the Federalist that after calling customer service, he eventually reached a manager who said the family should not have been kicked out.
“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 outlet. “…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.”
In a statement to the Federalist, corporate spokeswoman 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.”