Whole Foods Market is claiming the US government is infringing on its constitutional right to ban employees from wearing Black Lives Matter masks.
In a December 17 filing obtained by Bloomberg News, the Amazon-owned grocery chain argued that the National Labor Relation Board’s complaint about its BLM mask ban was actually an attempt to violate the company’s constitutional right to impose a dress code.
Whole Foods accused NLRB attorney Jennifer Abruzzo of trying to “compel employer speech” –– which violates the First Amendment.
In its response, Whole Foods said that “by singling out the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter'” Abruzzo is “impermissibly favoring and requiring” it to “favor certain expressions of political speech over others.”
The health food grocer told Business Insider its dress code policy was created “to ensure we are giving Team Members a workplace and customers a shopping experience focused entirely on excellent service and high-quality food.”
“We do not believe we should compromise that experience by introducing any messages on uniforms, regardless of the content, that shift the focus away from our mission,” Whole Food’s statement continued.
Back in July 2020, a group of employees filed a discrimination lawsuit against Whole Foods after it reportedly punished workers who wore Black Lives Matter masks to work. The lawsuit accused the grocery store of sending people home without pay and threatened to fire them.
As reported by The New York Times, the employee’s lawsuit highlighted that the grocery store did not impose the same disciplinary action when team members wore things that supported other social movements.