National Labor Relations Board Says Worker May Protest Discrimination in the Workplace

You’ve been exposed to or seen examples of racial discrimination in your place of employment. You believe that it’s in the best interests of your fellow employees to call attention to the wrongful conduct. Can you wear clothing that promotes a social justice organization, such as Black Lives Matter? Can you sport a rainbow pin or otherwise visually support LBGT rights in the workplace? Under a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, the answer is “yes.”

Board Allows Home Depot Employee to Put BLM Letters on Work Apron

The NLRB considered the rights of a worker at Home Depot, who contended that he had personally witnessed disparate treatment of employees of color in the workplace. The employee took a felt-tip marker and stenciled the letters “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter, on his work apron. The employee’s supervisors demanded that he remove the letters, indicating he would lose his job if he failed to comply. The worker refused to remove the insignia, resigned and then filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The NLRB, in its opinion, stated that the right of workers to work together to improve working conditions is “well-established.” They also ruled that promoting awareness of or alleviating racial discrimination in the workplace qualified as improving working conditions. Pursuant to the ruling, Home Depot was required to reinstate the employee with back pay to the date he resigned. They were also ordered not to prevent workers from engaging in such actions in the future.

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At the Romero Law Group, PLLC, we handle a wide range of legal issues for employees in Nassau and Suffolk Counties; in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx; in Westchester; and across Northern New Jersey. We offer a free initial consultation to any employee with a potential employment law dispute. To schedule an appointment, contact our offices online or call us at (631)257-5588.