Business apologizes for treatment of disabled veteran over face mask

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 11:44 PM MDT
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An American hero and disabled veteran said he couldn't believe he was asked to leave a credit union for not wearing a mask. Retired Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro cannot wear one because of his injuries. After 11 News reached out to the ENT Credit Union, they said they were embarrassed, disappointed and apologized for how he was treated.

Del Toro said he hopes businesses realize, even though they might be concerned about COVID-19, they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities.

"I felt almost defeated, because I can't believe this is really happening. Do people not have common sense anymore," said Del Toro.

He visited his local ENT branch Monday in Falcon but was told he couldn't come in because he wasn't wearing a mask.

"Not only can I not wear the ones around the ear because I don't have ears, but due to my medical condition I can't breathe [with one]," he said.

In 2005 Del Toro's humvee hit a roadside bomb while he was serving in Afghanistan. 80% of his body was burned.

After explaining his disability to the employee, she reportedly insisted he couldn't come in and instead should use the drive-through.

"I have such a hard time trying to grab that thing and usually end up dropping them, the canisters, obviously because I don't have- I'm missing fingers," he said he explained to her.

Del Toro said this wasn't the first time he's had this same issue at a business since Governor Jared Polis announced a new executive order in a news conference two weeks ago.

In his announcement Polis explained that any business would have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask if the business chose to do so. What Polis did not say specifically at the news conference, but did include in the

, was that the businesses needed to also comply with laws protecting people with disabilities.

ENT released a statement about the incident:

First we'd like to thank KKTV for letting us know about this incident. We were unaware of it prior to your message and are both embarrassed and disappointed to learn that Master Sergeant Del Toro was not given accommodations. Letting us know gives us the chance to be better. We have been very diligent in not allowing anyone to enter our centers without a mask in order to keep our employees and other members safe. Our typical first option for members that don't want to wear masks is to guide them to the drive up. But we do have avenues to assist members with special needs, including several members in vehicles in our parking lot to allow us to follow our policy while best serving our members' needs. In this case, we did not offer a better alternative to best serve Master Sgt Del Toro's needs. Sometimes a policy message can be interpreted as black and white, but we expect our staff to use good judgement in taking care of members. It's what we're known for, and in this case, we failed, and for that we are extremely sorry. We have reached out to Master Sgt. Del Toro to apologize, and will not only be talking with the member service representative involved in this situation, but will be reinforcing this as a learning opportunity for all member service representatives across all locations. We do our best to do the right thing every time, but sometimes we fall short. We will work hard to make this right, and offer our sincere and deepest apologies.