Whole Foods Vindicated For Banning BLM Apparel

Whole Foods stepped into hot water during 2020’s violent BLM protests when the upscale grocery chain banned political messaging on clothing and facemasks. This came in response to several employees donning BLM insignia and interacting with the shopping public.

Now, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge ruled in favor of the company against employees who filed a complaint. The decision reaffirmed the ability of Whole Foods and others to ban messaging unrelated to the company’s mission.

The clothing and facemasks were unrelated to job performance, the ruling asserted, and thus the decision was up to the employer.

The employees were represented by an NLRB general counsel. They argued that wearing the BLM materials would make workers feel safe and supported.

The representative also claimed that prohibiting the apparel infringed on the employees’ rights to push for better working conditions.

The company responded to multiple workers showing up with BLM symbolism and related messages in 2020. This came during the national fallout from the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police.

The action by Whole Foods led to widespread calls for boycotting the normally leftist-friendly chain.

Administrative Law Judge Ariel Sotolongo explained his reasoning. “The fact that BLM may be a movement of great significance to African Americans and that its goals are valid, does not mean that a rule prohibiting the displaying of such message[s] at work is ‘racist.’”

He further declared that counsel failed to prove that the employees had a collective goal concerning their jobs.

Instead, he said the workers concocted “a helter-skelter, throw-mud-at-the-wall attempt at objectively establishing the mutual aid and protection goal of employees wearing BLM messaging.”

Interestingly, while Sotolongo established the legality of banning such attire, he ruled against a prior Whole Foods dress code. The rule in place from 2013 to 2020 barred “any visible slogan, message, logo or advertising.”

The NLRB judge determined this would undermine collective bargaining efforts by banning union pins and buttons.

Despite its win over disgruntled employees, Whole Foods quickly fell back onto leftist messaging while it took its victory lap.

In a statement, the company said its “diverse culture continues to be a source of great pride for Whole Foods Market and we remain focused on creating both a safe and inclusive workplace for all.”