Labor board prosecutors have alleged that Whole Foods Market, which is owned by Amazon, illegally prevented its workers from wearing Black Lives Matter (BLM) masks, and punished those who broke the ban.
According to Jill Coffman, the regional director of the San Francisco National Labor Relations Board, the grocery store chain laid down appearance rules at its US outlets to forbid employees from displaying Black Lives Matter messages by means of their clothes.
“Issues of racial harassment and discrimination are central to employees’ working conditions, and the National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ right to advocate for change,” she said in a statement seen by Bloomberg.
“Through this complaint, we seek to enforce the act and protect workers’ rights to speak up about these important issues.”
The filing also alleged Whole Foods Market sent home, fired, or implemented other punitive measures against the workers in California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Washington, and Indiana during 2020 for wearing masks, pins or other apparel featuring the initials BLM.
“Our dress code policy is designed to ensure we are giving Team Members a workplace and customers a shopping experience focused entirely on excellent service and high-quality food,” Whole Foods said in a statement, commenting on the allegations.
“We do not believe we should compromise that experience by introducing any messages on uniforms, regardless of the content, that shift the focus away from our mission,” the company added.
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