The manager at the store’s Cambridge location told employees who came in wearing masks with Black Lives Matter written on them Wednesday that they would either have to change their face wear or go home, according to The Boston Globe.
More employees walked out again Thursday after an employee handed out masks with the words emblazoned on them, the report said.
After Starbucks employees faced a similar backlash earlier this month, the company started allowing them to wear Black Lives Matter apparel and printed out shirts supporting the movement for baristas to wear.
Whole Foods employees have been sent home across the country from New Hampshire to Washington state.
“In a customer-focused environment, all Team Members must comply with our longstanding company dress code, which prohibits clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related,” the company said in a statement. “Team Members who do not comply with dress code are always given the opportunity to comply. If a Team Member is wearing a face mask that is outside of dress code, they are offered a new face mask. Team Members are not able to work until they comply with the policy.”
Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, has pledged $10 million to organizations fighting for racial justice.
“We can’t just put a label on this and say we care and not let our own workers wear stuff in support of the movement,” Savannah Kinzer, a white employee who walked out of the Cambridge store, told the Globe. “Until we see it as a white person’s problem and not a Black issue that white people have to empathize with, racism will persist.”
A statement on the company’s website says, “Racism and discrimination of any kind have no place at Whole Foods Market. We support the Black community and meaningful change in the world.”
In Seattle, several employees who refused to work over the mask policy stood outside the store last week shouting “Black lives matter!”
“I work tomorrow at 2:30 and if they make me take my mask off, I’ll immediately leave,” one protester told KIRO-TV in Seattle.
Employees in Philadelphia protested outside a Philadelphia store after saying they were sent home over the policy.
“Personally, what I hope comes out of this is more worker power,” Megan Murray, who used to work at the store, told FOX 29 in Philadelphia. “We realize that if things aren’t going well for us that we have the power to make that change happen.”