Hairstylist protests firing, Stanley Marketplace COVID-19 protocols

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AURORA | About a dozen local activists chanted and bore signs outside of Stanley Marketplace Tuesday to protest the firing of an Aurora hairstylist who claims she was banned from the premises and ultimately terminated from her job for questioning the market’s COVID-19 safety precautions.

Elizabeth McIntire, a former hairstylist at Clementine’s Salon and Skincare located inside Stanley Marketplace, called for the noon, Dec. 15 demonstration to protest her alleged firing earlier this month.

The protesters marched around the perimeter of the Stanley campus but were not allowed on the property.

McIntire, 27, said in an earlier statement she was terminated from her job after Stanley owners banned her from the building when she questioned whether the bazaar was adhering to local guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19. She was particularly concerned with a series of public concerts held in and around the market in recent months.

“Elizabeth was concerned about the marketplace hosting indoor events … and that the public health order was being violated,” a representative from labor union Restaurant Workers United wrote in a news release. “She was concerned not only for the workers’ and customers’ health and safety, but for the workers’ livelihood should the marketplace be closed down for violating safety orders.”

The Tri-County Health Department has not issued any violations to Stanley businesses for violating COVID-19-related public health orders, a spokesperson for the department confirmed.

Mark Shaker, who co-founded the retooled airplane hangar some five years ago, said Stanley has always adhered to public health guidelines. He said city and county officials have signed off on all events held at the market in recent months.

“Stanley Marketplace has been an exemplary model of public health compliance,” Shaker told The Sentinel. “From the beginning, everything we’ve done has been in strict coordination with Tri-County Health Department and the City of Aurora. Not only do we have zero violations, we’ve had zero instances of any issues from the public health front out here. We’re proud of what we’ve done, we’re proud of our record and we’ll continue to move forward in a positive direction.”

McIntire claimed Shaker berated her via phone when she questioned the marketplace’s recent practices, though Shaker claimed it was McIntire who excoriated him.

“Really my main concern was just the legality, and I just wanted to talk to Mark,” McIntire said. “ … And I was met with a lot of hostility.”

McIntire has asked Shaker to create a new system that would allow the some 500 people who work within the Stanley facility to lodge complaints “free from retaliation,” according to a statement. She’s also asking him for back pay and a written apology.

“I want to make sure that no employee or business owner in the marketplace is treated like this ever again,” McIntire said in a statement.

Members of Restaurant Workers United, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Democratic Socialists of America will lead the demonstration Tuesday. McIntire, who is a member of the local Party for Socialism and Liberation, said she plans to observe the event from a nearby public sidewalk as she remains banned from being on Stanley grounds.

In September, prosecutors in Adams and Arapahoe Counties filed dozens of felony charges against leaders from the Party for Socialism and Liberation for their roles in multiple protests held across Aurora this summer. The group has roundly condemned the criminal filings.

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