The Change You Might Notice The Next Time You Go Into Whole Foods

Amazon uses 200,000 robots to move stuff around its warehouses (via Vox). Is the retail giant now turning its 87,000 Whole Foods employees (via Forbes) into robots, too? One thing's for certain: Customers won't get confused and think they're at Trader Joe's.

A new dress code for Whole Foods employees takes effect on November 2, and employees who spoke to Business Insider aren't happy. Employees won't be able to wear clothes or face masks with busy designs. (Trader Joe's workers, famous for their loud Hawaiian shirts, are rolling their eyes right about now.) If a Whole Foods staffer wants to express themselves with a button or pin, well, that's not allowed, either. Jeans can't be ripped. Athleisure is just a bad idea in general but is specifically called out in the new Whole Foods dress code as well. Don't advertise anything or otherwise make a statement on your T-shirts – and that even includes apparel handed out by Whole Foods' vendors. Finally, no flags of any kind are permitted – presumably, not even on Flag Day.

A Whole Foods employee in Boston was disappointed by the rule against T-shirts and hats from vendors. "Maybe Amazon is just very strict and wants everyone to look like robots and look the same way," the employee said. An employee in Portland, Oregon, said Whole Foods has had a dress code, but it wasn't enforced. "We're worried that it's leaning toward a more super-corporate, you're-just-another-cog-in-the-machine kind of employee situation," they said.

Employees sued Whole Foods over Black Lives Matter messaging

As robotic as these employees say Whole Foods wants them to be, some employees still cling to the all-too-human notion of finding pleasure on the job. As a Philadelphia employee explained it to Business Insider, "The overall morale at the store every month is getting lower and lower and lower. It feels like they're cracking down on overall enjoyment." Self-expression through clothing is not always about enjoyment. Employees sued Amazon's high-end grocery chain in July, claiming retaliation for wearing Black Lives Matter pins or face masks (via The Daily Californian). The company's dress code at the time already prohibited advertising or messaging that wasn't about Whole Foods. Now, it sounds like the grocer is doubling down on its dress code and will be keener on enforcing it.

Whole Foods said the same thing back in July about the lawsuit that it's saying now about the new dress code: "Our dress code is in place to ensure that we are prioritizing operational safety and serving our customers by keeping the focus in our stores on selling the highest quality food," a spokesperson told Business Insider. While the new dress code hasn't gone into effect quite yet, a Whole Foods customer on Twitter is already unhappy about it. @ImaginativeMom tweeted her thought that the new rules were "unfortunate." Suppressing employees' creative flair will make shopping at Whole Foods less appealing, she added. She also threatened to switch to Trader Joe's.