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.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston, in a 28-page decision, found little evidence to refute Whole Foods’ “legitimate business explanations” for strictly enforcing the dress code, and no significant evidence it targeted the plaintiffs by firing them in the summer of 2020.
“The evidence demonstrates only that Whole Foods did not strenuously enforce the dress code policy until mid-2020, and that when it increased enforcement, it did so uniformly,” she added.
Whole Foods, part of Amazon.com Inc, has long maintained that it enforced its dress code uniformly and intended the code–which also covered visible slogans, logos and ads–to foster a welcoming and safe shopping environment.
“This holding is not about the importance of the Black Lives Matter message, the value of plaintiffs’ advocacy in wearing the masks, the valor of their speaking out against what they perceived to be discrimination in their workplace, or the quality of Whole Foods’ decision-making,” Burroughs wrote.