Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Trent Wu protests with other employees of the South Lake Union Whole Foods against store management not allowing workers to wear Black Lives Matter apparel in Seattle on June 25, 2020.

LINDSEY WASSON/Reuters

Whole Foods Market was sued Monday by employees who accused the upscale grocery chain of punishing workers who wear Black Lives Matter face masks on the job.

The 14 plaintiffs in the proposed U.S. class action accused Whole Foods, a unit of Amazon.com Inc., of sending workers home without pay or imposing disciplinary actions for wearing the masks and related apparel.

Whole Foods said the masks violate its long-standing dress code banning clothing with “visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising” unrelated to the company.

Story continues below advertisement

But the complaint filed in Boston federal court said Whole Foods has selectively enforced its code, and seeks an injunction to stop it from targeting Black Lives Matter supporters.

Savannah Kinzer, a white plaintiff, said she was fired Saturday after organizing co-workers in protest at a Whole Foods in Cambridge, Mass.

“Many companies are making enthusiastic statements about how they support Black Lives Matter and protests that have shaken up the country,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview. “Whole Foods and Amazon have portrayed themselves as champions of racial justice, but when their employees try to speak out, they get muzzled.”

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to discuss the lawsuit, but said the company has “zero tolerance” for retaliation. She also said Ms. Kinzer was fired for lateness and missing shifts.

Ms. Kinzer disputed this, and said Whole Foods has let employees wear masks bearing political messages and sports team logos, and let her wear a mask with the phrase “Soup is Good” without incident.

The plaintiffs come from four U.S. states and several racial and ethnic backgrounds. More plaintiffs are expected.

Black Lives Matter protests gained new strength after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, where a police officer pinned his neck to the ground.

Story continues below advertisement

On June 3, Amazon said “Black lives matter” and announced a US$10-million donation to social-justice organizations.

The case is Frith et al v Whole Foods Market Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 20-11358.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies