Amazon-owned whole foods sued over Black Lives Matter controversy
Jul 22, 2020
Employees at Amazon-owned Whole Foods filed a lawsuit against the grocery chain alleging punishment for wearing Black Lives Matter or BLM masks.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston by Whole Foods workers in Cambridge, accuses that the company fired one employee and disciplined around 40 others for wearing BLM masks at work. As per the suit, the company began sending employees home without pay for wearing BLM masks, and also threatened with termination if they continue wearing the masks.
The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of 14 workers at six stores, argues that the company violated Civil Rights Act protections against workplace discrimination by selectively enforcing its dress code. The Austin, Texas-based company's dress code prohibits clothes with visible slogans, messages, logos that are not company-related.
Meanwhile, Shannon Liss-Riordan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, pointed out that until recently, the company did not discipline workers wearing clothing with other messages, such as LGBTQ pins or sports team apparel.
The lawsuit says, "Whole Foods' selective enforcement of its dress code in disciplining employees who wear apparel expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race and on the basis of employees' affiliation with and advocacy for Black employees."
BLM movement for racial equality and justice arose following the merciless killing of African American George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Responding to the lawsuit, Whole Foods stated that while it cannot comment on pending litigation, it is critical to clarify that no Team Members have been terminated for wearing Black Lives Matter face masks or apparel.
The complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, calling for an end to Whole Foods' policy of not allowing employees to wear BLM masks at work. They also seek redress for employees who have been disciplined for wearing such masks.(DPA)