Whole Foods is facing a class action suit for not allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter masks.
According to the suit, the Amazon-owned grocery store punished employees for wearing BLM masks–either sending them home without pay or taking other disciplinary measures. According to the chain, these masks go against the company dress code, which does not allow employees to wear messages or logos that are not company-related.
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A Whole Foods spokesperson explained the dress code to the NY Post, “Team members with face masks that do not comply with dress code are always offered new face masks. Team members are unable to work until they comply with dress code.”
However, according to employees, these policies are usually not enforced. The law suit cites the fact that employees were able to wear logos supporting Pride without reprimand.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement:”The actions of Whole Foods against its employees are not only illegal but shameful.”
She continued, “Whole Foods’ decision to selectively and arbitrarily enforce it’s ‘dress code’ to specifically suppress the message that Black Lives Matter paints a picture about what the company values, and that picture is not pretty.”
Considering Amazon has openly supported Black Lives Matter on their site, and Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has pledged his support for the cause, this policy against BLM masks seems to be incongruous with Amazon’s pubic statements in support of the movement.
Additionally, the allegations against Whole Foods have a lot of similarities to the criticism Starbucks recently faced. At first, the coffee chain did not allow employees to wear any clothing in support of BLM (like t-shirts or pins), but reversed their decision after receiving harsh criticism.