Whole Foods is doubling down on its Black Lives Matter mask ban.
The food chain faced legal action from a group of employees, who claimed Whole Foods illegally banned its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter masks at work.
However, Whole Foods says that forcing them to allow its employees to wear Black Lives Matter masks and logos would be a violation of its constitutional rights, per Bloomberg via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The employees were threatened with termination if they continued to wear the masks. In October 2020, the company instituted a new dress code for its workers, banning them from wearing clothing that displayed visible logos, messages or flags.
In the filing against the chain, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stated:
“By singling out the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ the General Counsel is impermissibly favoring, and requiring that [Whole Foods] favor, certain expressions of political speech over others in its retail grocery stores.”
The filing added, “The General Counsel seeks to compel employer speech by [Whole Foods] in violation of [Whole Foods’] rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and enforcement of any Order from the [NLRB] to compel such speech would violate the Constitution.”
Employees say they had previously been allowed to wear masks and logos in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
A spokesperson for Whole Foods told Business Insider that its dress code was “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,” they said.