After the 2020 murder of George Floyd, workers and businesses alike came to support the Black Lives Matter movement to shine a spotlight on police brutality. However, a Bloomberg report claims Amazon-owned Whole Foods started to ban any clothes their workers could wear, showcasing support for the BLM movement. This is despite Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saying publicity he was for it.
In the summer of 2020, Whole Foods instituted a ban on its workers wearing BLM apparel after workers started wearing masks and shirts. A group of employees then sued the company citing the company had previously allowed workers to wear Pride flags to show support for their LGBTQ+ coworkers, and their enforcement was selective.
Whole Foods implemented a broader ban in October 2020, prohibiting their employees from “wearing any kind of logo, slogan, messaging, flags, or any type of symbol.” Some believed that was because of customers’ objections, but the report from Bloomberg alleges an internal email Whole Foods felt the slogan paved the way for more unionization.
Higher-ups have been said to worry that doing so would cause political conflict with customers. However, an internal email revealed in the legal case that managers might also be concerned about how allowing it would be like “opening the door for union activity.”
Business Insider previously reported Whole Foods was using a heat map to rank stores “most at risk” for union efforts. However, this is the first time support for Black Lives Matter has been linked.
Even though Whole Foods workers lost an appeal effort in June, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint claiming Whole Foods broke federal law with their restrictions and retaliated against some workers. Whole Foods then claimed the Board was infringing upon their First Amendment rights. The trial is expected to wrap up in a couple of weeks.