Whole Foods employees have filed a class-action discrimination lawsuit against the grocery chain for allegedly disciplining workers who wore Black Lives Matter facemasks while on the job. The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Monday morning, was initiated by 14 workers from Cambridge, Bedford, New Hampshire, Berkeley, California, and Seattle, Washington, according to a news release. The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction that would prohibit further retaliation against employees who choose to wear Black Lives Matter masks during their shifts.
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, many Whole Foods employees began wearing Black Lives Matter masks as a show of solidarity. In June, the grocery chain started disciplining, harassing, intimidating, and sending workers home without pay for wearing the masks, the lawsuit alleges. Some were said to be subjected to “corrective counseling,” while others were reportedly fired. Store managers cited the company dress code, which prohibits slogans or logos not affiliated with the company, as the reason for prohibiting Black Lives Matter messages on employee attire.
The complaint also alleges that Whole Foods’ actions violate the Civil Rights Act prohibitions on discrimination and retaliation and request an immediate injunction against employee retaliation and termination, as well as compensatory damages and back pay.
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