FACT CHECK: Did Olive Garden Ban Employees From Wearing American Flag Face Masks?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Facebook post shared over 9,300 times claims the restaurant chain Olive Garden prohibits its employees from wearing face masks depicting the American flag.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Olive Garden banned its employees from wearing American flag masks. A spokesperson for its parent company confirmed that the claim is inaccurate.

Fact Check:

In recent months, rumors of companies banning American flag apparel have circulated online. This particular Facebook post claims that while the Italian-themed restaurant chain allows employees to wear masks showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, it prohibits them from donning those with American flags.

“I find it odd that Olive Garden employees are allowed to wear BLM mask but NOT the American flag,” reads the post. “I’m done spending my money there!!!” (RELATED: Is Olive Garden Funding Trump’s Re-election Campaign?)

But Check Your Fact didn’t find any credible media reports about Olive Garden banning its employees from wearing masks depicting the American flag. A search of Olive Garden’s website also turned up no announcement of a rule to that effect. Meagan Bernstein, a spokesperson for parent company Darden Restaurants, told Check Your Fact via email that “team members may wear either if they choose to do so.”

In response to a question about the claim on the chain’s official Facebook page, Olive Garden also said that claim is “not true.”

Olive Garden faced criticism in 2011 after staff at an Alabama restaurant did not allow a group to display the American flag at a Kiwanis Club event there, Fox News reported. John Caron, the then-president of Olive Garden, addressed the incident in a statement.

“To our friends and neighbors who may be concerned about whether or not guests can bring the American flag into Olive Garden, I want to assure you the American flag is always welcome in any of our restaurants. Anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants may certainly do so,” Caron said in the statement. “I want to express my most heartfelt apology to anyone who has been offended by our mistake. The misunderstanding was purely a case of our corporate office giving incorrect information to one of our restaurants.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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