A National Labor Relations Board administrative judge ruled in Whole Foods’ favor in a case in which the company disciplined its employees in 2021 because they wore Black Lives Matter clothing in violation of Whole Foods’ dress code.
The judge ruled wearing the clothing was not “connected with their employment or working condition.” Employees can appeal to the full NLRB, where they will likely find a more sympathetic ear.
Whole Foods has tried to avoid gloating.
In a Thursday statement, Whole Foods Market said: “Our diverse workplace culture is a source for great pride at Whole Foods Market. We remain committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. We are happy with the outcome of this matter.”
The lawyer for the workers did not see it quite that way.
Shannon Liss Riordan, an attorney who represents the workers, said that if employees believe that they are acting in good faith to improve conditions at their workplace and promote it, then that activity is protected.
This is a “protected” activity.
It’s also a vile political speech that divides an office instead of unifying it. It is within the rights of a company to refuse political speech from employees if they create a toxic work environment, cause division, or threaten anyone.
Whole Foods employees donated money to Black Lives Matter.
New York Times:
After the death of George Floyd in May 2020 by a Minneapolis Police officer, many companies have embraced the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whole Foods is owned by Amazon. The company pledged $10,000,000 to organizations working for social justice, and improving the lives of Blacks and African Americans. Whole Foods stated on its website, “Racism has no place in our store” and that they support “the Black Community and meaningful change around the world.”
The workers who filed the complaint said the company did not support employees who supported the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement aims to bring attention to police killings and racism in workplaces, housing, schools, and other areas.
With the addition of radical Democrats to the NLRB, the organization has swung dramatically leftward. Federal courts, however, have consistently dismissed employees’ lawsuits against the company.
This was the third time a judge ruled in Whole Foods’ favor against employees who claimed they were retaliated for supporting Black Lives Matter. A federal judge dismissed in January a lawsuit filed by three former employees who claimed they were illegally terminated for wearing Black Lives Matter Masks. In June 2022, the federal appeals court ruled that Whole Foods did not violate the Civil Rights Act of 1965 by banning Black Lives Matter clothing.
Race is a privilege in American workplaces. When racial issues become divisive in the workplace, companies have some rights to intervene to ensure a productive and safe environment.