A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by former Whole Foods employees who claimed they were illegally fired for their opposition to a company ban on workers wearing Black Lives Matter masks.
The Hill reported that U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs granted summary judgment in favor of the grocery chain. She ruled that the company did not treat the workers differently than others who ran afoul of its dress code in 2020.
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by three former Whole Foods employees who said they were illegally fired for opposing the upscale grocery chain's alleged discriminatory discipline of workers who wore "Black Lives Matter" masks. https://t.co/UWSQGD6cN8
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Burroughs, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, wrote that her ruling “is not about the importance of the Black Lives Matter message.” Nor is it about the Plaintiff’s right to advocacy, their stand against discrimination, or Whole Foods’ policy decisions.
Instead, she found that “no reasonable jury could conclude by a preponderance of the evidence” that Whole Foods acted in a discriminatory manner in terminating the protesting employees.
The three workers claimed that the company retaliated against them for their political statements.
Following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, many Whole Foods workers began wearing the BLM-themed face coverings. This directly violated company policy against clothing with visible messages or slogans other than the branding of Whole Foods.
Of course, the mainstream media fed into the frenzy that erupted over the clearly-stated company policy. In July 2020, the three employees filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging discrimination.
Judge Burroughs previously rejected nearly all claims brought in the lawsuit, and an appeals panel upheld her decision. She did, however, allow one claim of unlawful retaliation to proceed which was brought by a former employee of a Cambridge, Massachusetts location.
A pair of other claims from workers in New Jersey and California joined the one previously allowed to proceed, but Monday’s order dismissed all three.
All three litigating employees either held press interviews or employee protests in which they slammed the company for its dress code. They asserted that their conduct was “protected” and that Whole Foods changed its normal procedure for termination.
Burroughs disagreed. She noted that the plaintiffs did not produce a single example of an employee committing a similar infraction who was treated differently during the time period in question. She also said that the company, while increasing dress code enforcement, did so uniformly.