CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Risking their jobs, several employees have been walking out of the Whole Foods in Cambridge for 18 days now, protesting the company since they’re not allowed to wear “Black Lives Matter” masks on the job.
“So we’re about three points away from being fired, or I am; a couple of my colleagues are four points away,” said Savannah Kinzer, an employee at Whole Foods Market.
Employees were told a few weeks ago that they cannot work in the store with a BLM face mask.
“To see this is just really disappointing,” said Yaxeny Colon, an employee at the Whole Foods in Cambridge. “I expected more from a company that I admire, I think they should let us support any kind of movement that is human rights and equal rights.”
Dozens gathered outside the Whole Foods Saturday to show support for these employees, from neighbors to city leaders and even customers.
“I feel completely uncomfortable giving them any of my dollars, so we’ve stopped shopping here,” said Vibha Pingle, a customer.
In a statement, a Whole Foods Market spokesperson said the following:
In order to operate 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. Team Members with face masks that do not comply with dress code are always offered new face masks. Team Members are unable to work until the comply with dress code.— Whole Foods Market spokesperson
“Until now they’ve let us wear whatever we want, and when we put on the Black Lives Matter masks that’s when they claimed we were violating dress code,” Kinzer said.
A Whole Foods Market spokesperson also said the company wholeheartedly denounces racism and discrimination of any kind, while finding ways to continue to support the Black community. The company also announced the launch of an Inclusion Task Force internally.
“This is a critical time in our history and I can’t understand why they’re not changing this policy because it’s so small,” Pingle said.
Protesters there said they’ll continue to walk out and hope others will support them until they see a company-wide change.
“It’s helpful for them to boycott Whole Foods right now, because until their bottom line is hurt and they see that people care, I don’t think they’re going to change,” Kinzer said. “And that’s what we want, we want them to listen.”