An official with the National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Home Depot alleging that the retailer discriminated against a Minneapolis employee for their Black Lives Matter activism at work.
The filing from an NLRB regional director claims the company used its uniform policy to “selectively and disparately” punish workers who had the initials “BLM” on their Home Depot aprons.
One worker was allegedly told to choose between wearing the slogan and having a job at the store. That worker was suspended and then terminated, according to the complaint.
The complaint also alleges that management threatened workers with “unspecified consequences” over their Black Lives Matter activism during an online work meeting in February.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers have a right to join together to try to improve their working conditions under what’s known as “protected concerted activity.” The NLRB regional director who issued the complaint, Jennifer Hadsall, made clear in a statement that the law covers workers trying to address racial harassment in the workplace.
“The NLRA protects employees’ rights to raise these issues with the goal of improving their working conditions,” Hadsall said. “It is this important right we seek to protect in this case.”
Hadsall’s complaint seeks to force Home Depot to post a notice in all of its stores in the U.S. clarifying that workers have the right to address racial discrimination without fear of retaliation.
“One worker was allegedly told to choose between wearing the slogan and having a job at the store.”
A Home Depot spokesperson said in an email that the NLRB complaint “misrepresents” what happened.
“The Home Depot does not tolerate workplace harassment of any kind and takes all reports of discrimination or harassment seriously, as we did in this case,” the spokesperson said. “We disagree with the characterization of this situation and look forward to sharing the facts during the NLRB’s process.”
The company has until next Thursday to respond to the complaint.
The NLRB is an independent agency responsible for enforcing collective bargaining law and refereeing disputes between employers, workers and unions. Due to recent appointments by President Joe Biden, the NLRB is more likely to pursue complaints like the one against Home Depot than it was during the previous four years when the agency was shaped by former President Donald Trump.
Last month, the Senate confirmed Biden’s pick for NLRB general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, a union-side attorney expected to take an aggressive approach to workers’ rights. The Senate also confirmed Biden’s two picks for the NLRB’s five-member board, Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty, who will give the board its first Democratic majority since 2017.
Read the complaint against Home Depot below.