A judge has ruled that Home Depot employees are prohibited from wearing Black Lives Matter paraphernalia while on the job.
According to Business Insider, administrative law judge Paul Bogas wrote that BLM’s message does not meet the requirements to be legally protected because it “is primarily used, to address the unjustified killings of Black individuals by law enforcement and vigilantes.”
He added, “To the extent the message is being used for reasons beyond that, it operates as a political umbrella for social concerns and relates to the workplace only in the sense that workplaces are part of society.”
This comes after the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Home Depot Inc. in Aug. 2021 alleging the retailer interfered with its employees’ rights by forbidding them from wearing BLM messaging on their aprons while on duty, Bloomberg news reported.
According to a statement released by the NLRB, “The home improvement giant discriminated against an employee in a Minneapolis store for raising issues of racial harassment with coworkers and managers and displaying a Black Lives Matter slogan on his apron – which are all protected actions under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Workers who wore BLM logos were told to either remove the messaging from their clothing or quit if they did not like the regulation, Business Insider reported.
NLRB regional director Jennifer Hadsall said, “The NLRA protects employees’ rights to raise these issues with the goal of improving their working conditions. It is this important right we seek to protect in this case.”
She added, “Issues of racial harassment directly impact the working conditions of employees.”
In 2021, a Home Depot spokeswoman told Business Insider that “Home Depot does not tolerate workplace harassment of any kind and takes all reports of discrimination or harassment seriously, as we did in this case…we disagree with the characterization of this situation and look forward to sharing the facts during the NLRB’s process.”
Home Depot’s stance to ban the BLM logo conflicts the published message from the CEO Craig Menear in 2020. Still available on the official website, Menear wrote in response to the racial uprising following the death of George Floyd “We are all hurting, but none more acutely than those in our African American communities. Please know that you are not alone. We must work together and more urgently. To that end, I have begun working with our associate resource groups to facilitate internal town halls to share experiences and create better understanding among us all.”
The CEO said the corporation contributed $1 million to the Lawyers Committee of Civil Rights Under Law to promote actionable change and build a more inclusive society.
The NLRB is also representing Whole Food employees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California and Washington who allege the company retaliated against them for wearing BLM face masks while on duty, the Daily Mail reported.