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Carvel manager: I was fired for not serving man without mask

Thomas DeSarle, the former manager of the Carvel on Forest Avenue, he was fired after refusing to serve a coughing customer who would not put on a mask and then tried to pay for his dessert with a drenched $10 bill.  Credit: Raychel Brightman

The manager of a Glen Cove ice cream shop says he was fired after refusing to serve a coughing customer who would not put on a mask and then tried to pay for his dessert with a drenched $10 bill.

Thomas DeSarle, who has managed the Carvel on Forest Avenue for two years, says he was terminated for following state health guidelines which mandates that customers wear masks inside indoor restaurants.

"I was fired for doing my job," said DeSarle, 40, of Glen Cove, following a news conference in Garden City. "You shouldn't be fired for following the guidelines."

But Annie Chen, the franchise owner of the shop, disputes DeSarle's account. She contends DeSarle was rude to the customer, failed to offer him a mask provided by Carvel and then quit three days later.

"He yelled at the customer very loudly," Chen said. "I told the manager that 'you can't talk that way.' Just talk to the customer politely."

Jonathan Bell, DeSarle's attorney, said his client "felt that his safety was at risk."

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"He was a very loyal employee but his employer put profits before his own safety," Bell said.

The incident, which occurred July 11, was captured on a soundless store video aired by WNBC/4. DeSarle said a man came into the shop, heavily coughing and without a mask, despite signs on the door stating that facial coverings are required.

DeSarle said he told the customer, who ordered a soft serve vanilla cup, that he needed to cover his face and then offered him one of the shop's masks but the man ignored his offer.

When the customer tried to hand DeSarle a perspiration-soaked $10 bill, the manager took back the ice cream and told Chen he would not complete the transaction. After a verbal dispute with her manager, Chen says she finished the order and sent DeSarle home for the evening.

When DeSarle returned to work July 13, he said Chen wanted a commitment that he would not refuse a customer service for any reason. DeSarle said he would not comply with the demand.

"I was told, 'If you can't serve customers, then you can't work here,' " said DeSarle, adding that he has previously refused to serve customers not wearing a mask, each time without incident. "We are in the middle of a pandemic. We have no idea of how we get sick or how we contract this virus."

Chen, though, says it was DeSarle who quit. "Nobody fired him," she said.

A corporate spokeswoman for Carvel did not respond to requests for comment.

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