Whole Foods employees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and two other states have reportedly filed a class action lawsuit against the food chain for discrimination against workers wearing Black Lives Matter masks during their shift.
According to NBC Chicago, the lawsuit was filed on Monday (July 20) with the US District Court in Boston against the grocery chain for an injunction that prohibits further retaliation against workers who want to wear the masks while at work.
The suit states that employees who wore the BLM masks to support the movement were sent home without payment from June. They have also been reported to have been harassed and intimidated by management, threatened with dismissal, and in some cases fired. Whole Foods claims that no one has been released for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask.
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"Although we cannot comment on any pending litigation, it is important to clarify that no team members have been fired from Black Lives Matter for wearing face masks or clothing," the company said in part on Monday.
Over a dozen employees at a Cambridge, Massachusetts location said they were sent home in June to wear the masks, while two other employees at a Bedford, New Hampshire, location said they were also earlier this month were sent home.
"Whole Foods' actions against its employees are not only illegal but also shameful," said Shannon Liss-Riordan, the plaintiff's chief lawyer, according to NBC Chicago. "These key workers have been asked to put their health at risk." Pandemic, and they did. Whole Foods' decision to selectively and arbitrarily enforce the dress code to suppress the message that Black Lives Matter paints a picture of what the company appreciates, and this picture is not pretty. "
In a statement last month, Whole Foods said it "bans clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos, or advertisements that are not company-related." However, this is inconsistent with the statements made by employees who the company has or has not enforced in the past. They say that rainbow needles and flags, sports team logos and humorous statements were swung without consequence.
"Whole Foods' policy on Black Lives Matter face masks is not only discriminatory but hypocritical," said Savannah Kinzer, a plaintiff in the case who was employed in the Cambridge shop and was recently resigned. "Whole Foods clearly states on its website and on the signs in its stores that" racism has no place here ", but does not allow employees to express solidarity with the lives of black people."
14 employees in Whole Foods stores in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Bedford, New Hampshire; Berkeley, California; and Seattle, Washington initiated the class action lawsuit. Workers in North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Michigan should join the operation, said Liss-Riordan.