News (USA)

Cinnabon employees strike over alleged demand to remove all Pride decorations

cinnabon, pride decorations, protest, Los Angeles, Friday
A Cinnabon storefront Photo: Shutterstock

Fourteen employees from a Cinnabon store located in the Northridge Fashion Center of Los Angeles, California protested Friday against an alleged policy from the store’s franchisee banning Pride decorations.

The policy was allegedly sent to the location by Greg Reheis, the vice president of operations of 13th Floor Capitol/Pilot LLC, a local franchisee that owns 16 Cinnabon locations.

“If any store [is] displaying a Pride Flag,” Reheis allegedly wrote in a company-wide message, “it is to be taken down IMMEDIATELY!” While it’s unclear whether the store had any Pride decorations up before Reheis sent his message, his message claimed that the franchisee doesn’t “discriminate or celebrate any particular race, ethnic group, gender-specific group, religious group or anything else.”

Reheis also reportedly told employees that “Non-specific pins (happy face, etc) are OK. But sports team, group, school pins, etc., are not OK.” His list of forbidden pins included rainbow-colored pins.

In response, the Northridge store’s employees filed a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department stating that the policy is a “homophobic and transphobic policy applied only to Pride.”

The complaint requests that the department require the franchisee to repeal the policy and to train its “managers and employees to comply with existing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” NBC News reported.

Reheis’ messages contradict Cinnabon’s policy of celebrating holidays, the employees allege. Such celebrations — which include Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day — are required by Cinnabon and not allowed to be ignored by franchisees. The employees also said that Cinnabon stores regularly allow for-profit and not-for-profit groups — like religious groups and sports teams — to host fundraisers, going against Reheis’ policy forbidding pins in favor of different community groups.

Vero Aguilar, an out lesbian who has worked at the store’s Northridge location for two years, said that the policy made her question the store owner’s commitment to supporting its LGBTQ+ employees.

“I started to not feel comfortable in my own skin,” she said. “In the world that we’re living in right now, where people are being attacked just for how they look, their religious practices, and who they love, it is a very dangerous world to be in. What happens if I or another LGBTQ member is attacked during our shift? We wonder, would Cinnabon have our back? Or would they just look the other way? We just want to feel safe.”

In June, Starbucks employees reportedly protested over an alleged policy change banning in-store Pride decorations — Starbucks denied any such policy change. Nevertheless, these protests have occurred amid conservative threats to boycott and harass LGBTQ+-inclusive businesses such as Target and Bud Light.

LGBTQ Nation has contacted Cinnabon and the franchisee for comment on this story and will update it if they respond.

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