Whole Foods Just Made A Surprising Claim About This Controversial Policy

Whole Foods stirred up a scandal in 2020 when employees of the grocery chain said they were punished (and, in some cases, fired) for wearing Black Lives Matter-printed face masks and other apparel, according to The New York Times. The Amazon-owned company denied the allegations and clarified that its dress code prohibits any non- company-related slogans. Affected employees across four states collectively filed a class-action lawsuit in defense of their attire, saying that the dress code had not been enforced for other slogans, such as those for LGBTQ+ rights, and was unfairly enforced for Black Lives Matter.

Per Business Insider, the National Labor Relations Board alleged that Whole Foods acted illegally and violated workers' rights by banning employees from wearing the printed apparel. In 2022, the case is still moving along. Most recently, Whole Foods has responded to the NLRB by doubling down on its controversial dress code policies, accusing the board of infringing upon its rights as a company (via Bloomberg).

Whole Food doubles down on its dress code

Last month, Whole Foods filed a claim saying that the National Labor Relations Board violated the company's First Amendment rights, reports Bloomberg. The company says that it is unconstitutional for the board to "compel" speech about Black Lives Matter — and that being forced to allow workers to wear "a political message in conjunction with" the Whole Foods uniform infringes upon its trademarks. Whole Foods representatives also state that wearing Black Lives Matter apparel is not protected under the National Labor Relations Act because it has to do with politics and social justice rather than workplace conditions.

Bloomberg reports that Whole Foods plans to fight the lawsuit during a court hearing in March of this year. Depending on its results, the case could help create a new precedent for workers, as the labor board prosecutor alleges that "racial justice advocacy" is well within employees' workplace rights. Time will tell what happens next, but it looks like both sides are planted firmly in their stances.