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Region 20-San Francisco Issues Consolidated Complaint Against Whole Foods for Unlawfully Disciplining Workers in Response to Wearing Black Lives Matter Apparel

Office of Public Affairs


San Francisco—On December 3rd, Region 20-San Francisco Regional Director Jill Coffman issued a consolidated complaint against Whole Foods Market, Inc. The consolidated complaint covers violations arising in 10 different states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Washington, Indiana, and California) and which were investigated in eight different Regions of the National Labor Relations Board. 

The complaint alleges numerous violations, including promulgating and maintaining appearance and dress code rules in response to employees’ protected activities and enforcing the rule to prohibit employees from wearing face masks and other apparel with Black Lives Matter messaging. Many employees were unlawfully sent home or disciplined for wearing such apparel and the complaint alleges that at least five employees were unlawfully discharged. The complaint also pleads that other unnamed employees were also disciplined and/or discharged and thus, the complaint will seek a remedy for all similarly situated employees nationwide, as well as a nationwide rescission of the unlawful rule and a nationwide notice posting. 

“Issues of racial harassment and discrimination are central to employees’ working conditions, and the National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ right to advocate for change,” said Region 20 Regional Director Jill Coffman. “Through this complaint, we hope to enforce the Act and protect workers’ rights to speak up about these important issues.”

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year. Region 20 serves areas in California, Hawaii, and Northern Mariana Islands from its Regional Office in San Francisco and Subregional Office in Honolulu.