Idaho Dispatch

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State Liquor Store Employee Says She Was Fired for Wearing Black Lives Matter Mask at Work

By • September 9, 2020

For the most part, the mask controversies we have seen in Idaho usually stem from whether or not a city or health district will require people to wear them.

However, the message of a mask worn at a state liquor store in Moscow is causing quite the stir.

Please note that the following article is the side of the story from the woman who says she was fired. We have not been able to contact someone at the store, or at the Idaho State Liquor Division, to get their side of the story but have made attempts to do so.

Idaho Dispatch also has no way at this time of contacting the customer who allegedly made the complaint against the employee.

A woman in Moscow, Paige Tilley, says she was fired from her job at the state Liquor Store because she wore her black lives matter mask.

On Twitter, Tilley says that a customer confronted her over her masks on several occasions. Here is the tweet she posted saying she was fired for wearing the mask:

In a message to Idaho Dispatch, Tilley explained a little more about her firing saying,

I worked for the liquor store. I was told my manager was being forced to take me off the schedule and asked me to return my uniform and keys. The message before that was the one I shared on my feed that was sent to my boss. I don’t know for sure it was the deputy director that sent it, I was just assuming because she is the one that told my manager to take me off the schedule. There’s only 4 of us that work there so no one else wears anything political. (Black lives should never be political though and that is the point of all this). I was told the last time this customer complained about me (I was wearing a different political mask) that I “probably shouldn’t” wear my political masks anymore. But as I said, black lives isn’t political.

Tilley mentioned a “deputy director” in one of her tweets and also mentions the individual in her message to us.

Here is what she posted on Twitter (language warning):

Tilley told Idaho Dispatch that the individual whom she believes is responsible for her firing is Sally Ray.

On the Idaho State Liquor Division website, there is one “Deputy Director” who is female and is over the “retail” operations. Her name is Sally Ray.

When Idaho Dispatch called the Liquor Division, we left a message for Sally to get clarification on Tilley’s story and if she sent the message alleged to have been sent to the store manager.

As for the mask itself, here is what Tilley says she was wearing the ultimately got her fired:

Several messages appear on the mask including “black spaces matter” and “black trans lives matter.” The image above Tilley says on Twitter, was taken by the customer who allegedly made the complaint against her.

The image above can be difficult to see so we asked Tilley for more specifics and she sent the image from the store that she bought the mask from.


We are attempting to find out if the Idaho State Liquor Division prevents employees from wearing clothing or anything on their person with specific types of messages or political messages. Usually, government employees are prohibited at work from doing so but clarification is still needed in this particular case.

For instance, could an employee wear a Donald Trump mask or a Joe Biden mask, or are all masks that are political in nature prohibited?

One particular question that we had for Tilley was about the quote in her tweet that discussed Gov. Little and how she would “make his life hell.” This was her full response to Idaho Dispatch:

By “make his life hell” I really didn’t mean anything too serious about that, I was just mad and tweeting. I was just hoping to bring attention to the fact that the Idaho state government wants to make black lives a political thing and the people of this state deserve to know that. Making his life hell is mostly just all of this “controversy” will be very annoying for him & most people aren’t going to think that’s a good look for their state governor. I’m a 21-year-old, I know I don’t have a lot of power to do much but I can make noise.

We also asked Tilley if she had any prior disciplinary action besides the mask issue and this was her response,

No other disciplinary action. I was told “probably shouldn’t” wear them but other than that nothing happened to me. I worked Sunday when the complaint occurred, and I was fired yesterday. My next shift was supposed to be tomorrow.

Tilley did say that she was warned not to wear masks with political statements on them. We asked her about the mask she previously wore that the Liquor Store had warned her about and this is what she told us,

My other mask said ‘white silence is violence’ and it was considered a ‘controversial face mask’.

According to Tilley, she was warned to not wear masks with political statements on them. Tilley contends that the mask that got her fired was not political in nature.

We asked her if she felt that the mask she was wearing with the words “black lives matter” on it was political given the nature of the organization, and that their fundraising goes through “Act Blue” which is a Democrat fundraising platform.

Here is what Tilley told Idaho Dispatch,

I can see how black lives matter could be considered political due to those stated facts BUT as you can see in the picture my mask does not strictly say “black lives matter” nor is it in the same font or logo. It is multiple statements such as “black kids matter. Black science matters. Black spaces matter. Black families matter…” etc. it is simply a mask full of factual statements, not tied to the organization of “black lives matter” And again, the point is not that I was fired. The point is WHY I was fired. Which is: a customer took offense to the words printed on my mask and complained to the state about me and they chose to fire me for that mask instead of standing up for their employee who was harassed by an angry man.

Regarding Tilley’s firing, it is unclear if she was fired outside of typical protocols for a state employee or if the warning she received previously was in line with their standards.

That is another question Idaho Dispatch intends to ask about this situation.

What do you think of Tilley’s firing? Was it justified or did a customer and her employer overreact?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Tags: Black Lives Matter, Brad Little, Fired, Idaho State Liquor Division, Moscow, Paige Tilley

12 thoughts on “State Liquor Store Employee Says She Was Fired for Wearing Black Lives Matter Mask at Work

  1. She was told not to wear political masks to work. She was in subordinate. She was let go for her own actions. She needs to take responsibility for herself.

  2. Even though I do not believe a state employee should be wearing anything political on the job. I do believe she should have be give a written warning before termination.

  3. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. From my perspective the mask in the article makes a political statement.

  4. most places don’t allow slogans even on their employees apparel, add in nobody has ever repealed the stupid right to work law, here in Idaho, They do not have to even give a reason to fire you. I am sorry she was fired but any business knows customers are their lively hood too. To me it appears by her own admission that she had been talked to previously about the face masks so they probably had already talked to her boss and when she continued the customer or customers went over he bosses head. workers and employers in a right to work state can terminate employment at will without a reason even. If you are terminated you can apply for unemployment while you are looking for new employment but if you are found to have been at fault you won’t get it. Welcome to the real world.

  5. First I will say that she should have a documented warning and it usually takes two or more of those. Second I would ask if she would wear a “all lives matter” mask or a “Trump is your president” mask. Both of those would be factual statements. If the answer is no then the mask she wore is political.

    1. Idaho is right to work. Our part time employees do not require any warning to be let go. I do not agree with doing things that way but in some cases it is best as to avoid a scene or repercussions.

  6. She ssys Im only 21, well time to grow up she threatened Little and when warned once did not heed it. She was fired for her actions , done deal… learn and move on.

  7. There is no way the Deputy Director wrote that message. Part time employees do not need a write up. Idaho is right to work. No explantion is needed to be taken off a schedule. I do not think she should have been taken off the schedule/let go for wearing the mask. Her previous actions not being included in this this article might have had a lot to do with why this might have been the last straw for her manager. There are many inconsistent statments in this article and should not be taken as factual.

  8. Why let a racist work for the state? She openly advocates for a single race over others. Isn’t that the definition of racism? She was warned, she did it again. Let her go work somewhere private money is involved. Taxpayer funds should not be used in anyway that supports and political or moral position. Not even a football team, nothing.

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