A National Labor Relations Board official has submitted a complaintHome Depot was accused of discriminating against an employee from Minneapolis for supporting Black Lives Matter 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.
According to the complaint, one worker was told that he could choose whether to wear the slogan or work at the store. According to the complaint, that worker was terminated after being suspended.
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 will respond by next Thursday.
The NLRB, an independent agency, is responsible for enforcing the collective bargaining law as well as refereeing disputes among workers, unions and employers. Recent appointments of President Joe Biden have made it more likely that the NLRB will pursue claims like those against Home Depot, than during the four previous years since the agency’s formation by 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.
Below is the Home Depot complaint.