Bloomberg reports that Whole Foods Market illegally banned employees from wearing “Black Lives Matter” masks and punished workers who did, according to U.S. labor board prosecutors.
The grocery store chain maintained appearance rules at U.S. locations to prohibit staff from displaying Black Lives Matter messages on their apparel, according to the National Labor Relations Board’s San Francisco regional director. The filing also accuses the company of firing, sending home and otherwise punishing employees around the country during 2020 for wearing apparel such as BLM masks or pins.
Federal labor law protects workers’ right to engage in collective action related to workplace issues. The agency’s lawyers, in Friday’s complaint, said that Whole Foods, by banning Black Lives Matter messages, was restricting employees from exercising their legal rights to participate “in concerted activities for their mutual aid and protection.”
Employees in California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Washington and Indiana were told at various times in 2020 to remove Black Lives Matter apparel or punished for wearing it, according to the complaint.