(Reuters) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by three former Whole Foods Market Inc. employees who said they were wrongfully fired for objecting to the upscale grocery chain’s alleged discriminatory discipline of workers who wore “Black Lives Matter ” masks.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston found little evidence to refute Whole Foods’ “legitimate business explanations” for strictly enforcing the dress code, and no substantial evidence had been directed against the plaintiffs by firing them in the summer of 2020.
“The evidence shows only that Whole Foods did not persistently enforce the dress code policy until mid-2020, and that when it did increase compliance, it did so in a uniform manner,”; Judge Burroughs wrote in a 28-page decision.
Whole Foods, part of Amazon.com Inc., has long argued that it adopted its dress code — which also covered visible slogans, logos and advertisements — to promote a welcoming, safe and inclusive shopping environment.
Judge Burroughs said the former employees, Haley Evans, Savannah Kinzer and Christopher Michno, could not claim protection from retaliation under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Whole Foods said it was satisfied with the lawsuit’s dismissal.
The case is Kinzer et al. v. Whole Foods Market Inc.