On Friday, an administrative law judge issued a ruling dismissing a complaint by several employees of Home Depot, alleging that the company discriminated against them by forbidding them from wearing clothing and imagery on the job that expressed support for Black Lives Matter.
As reported by Business Insider, the complaint was filed on behalf of the employees by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which claimed that Home Depot had violated federal labor law and workers’ rights by implementing the ban on pro-BLM messaging. Employees were told to either remove such apparel from their signature company-issued aprons, or resign. NLRB also claimed, without evidence, that the company had threatened and retaliated against the employees who tried to convince their fellow employees to join them in resistance.
“Issues of racial harassment directly impact the working conditions of employees,” said Jennifer Hadsall, a spokeswoman for the NLRB back in August of 2021. “The NLRA protects employees’ rights to raise these issues with the goal of improving their working conditions.”
In response to Hadsall’s statement, Home Depot issued its own statement declaring that the complaint “misrepresents the relevant facts,” and that “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.”
“We disagree with the characterization of this situation and look forward to sharing the facts during the NLRB’s process,” the statement concluded.
In his ruling on Friday, Judge Paul Bogas determined that the pro-BLM imagery at the heart of the complaint did not have “an objective, and sufficiently direct, relationship to terms and conditions of employment.”
“It originated, and is primarily used, to address the unjustified killings of black individuals by law enforcement and vigilantes,” Bogas continued. “To the extent the message is being used for reasons beyond that, it operates as a political umbrella for societal concerns and relates to the workplace only in the sense that workplaces are part of society.”