A federal judge last week ruled that Home Depot does not have to allow employees to wear apparel displaying the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” after a former employee filed a complaint against the company, the New York Post reports.
A former employee at a Home Depot store in Minnesota filed a complaint in March 2021 claiming that they were suspended and "required to choose between engaging in protected concerted activity, including displaying the 'BLM' slogan, and quitting employment,” which resulted in them resigning.
National Labor Relations Board Judge Paul Bogas wrote in his opinion that the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient reasoning for their argument. He said that the standard of concerted activity requires that the messaging in question be a group effort that improves working conditions.
"Rather, the record shows that the message was primarily used, and generally understood, to address the unjustified killings of Black individuals by law enforcement and vigilantes," Bogas wrote. "A message about unjustified killings of Black men, while a matter of profound societal importance, is not directly relevant to the terms, conditions, or lot of Home Depot's employees as employees."
The judge did note that "the record shows that the additions employees make to the aprons are sometimes extensive.”
The former employee said that they added Black Lives Matter to their apron after the killing of George Floyd by police in 2020. This, as well as their observing racist behavior by a fellow employee, prompted them to add the phrase as “a symbol of alliance.”
The employee said in testimony: "I have never seen it as something political myself. It's something that I put on so that people know to approach me. I am a person of color myself, so it's a form of solidarity. It's a way ... for people to feel safe around me."
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