Masking your political views

At the Washington Post, owned by bazillionaire Jeff Bezos, the slogan adopted shortly after President Trump took office proclaims, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

At Whole Foods supermarkets, which Bezos also owns, it apparently dies at the checkout counter, or while stocking the produce displays. At least that seems to be the case for certain expressions of democracy.

A lawsuit filed on Monday on behalf of workers at Whole Foods stores in four states, including Massachusetts, says the company retaliated against employees wearing facemasks reading “Black Lives Matter.” One of the plaintiffs says she was fired over the issue when she organized fellow workers to defy company orders and wear masks supporting the burgeoning movement around race issues.

Whole Foods denies that, saying Savannah Kinzer was terminated for violating the company’s time and attendance policies and missing shifts. The company says it is simply enforcing a policy against workers displaying any slogans, logos, or messages while on the job that aren’t company-related.

The problem, say the workers who are now suing, is that Whole Foods didn’t seem to have any problem with employees wearing pins supporting LGBT rights or sports logos. But the Black Lives Matter cause, the workers say, is apparently a political bridge too far for corporate honchos.

The irony — or hypocrisy — of the company’s position, says the lawsuit, is that Whole Foods and its parent company, Amazon, “had each posted online messages supporting Black Lives Matter and condemning racism,” reports the New York Times.

“So many companies today are doing everything they can to profess how progressive they are… but when it actually comes to letting their employees express these same sentiments they get muzzled,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston attorney who filed the suit on behalf of Whole Foods workers, told the BBC.

Corporate America has not responded uniformly to the surge of public expressions of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has taken off in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

Starbucks announced last month that it would allow employees to wear “Black Lives Matter” pins or shirts, reversing a previous policy that had been in place, according to the Times, because the company said the slogan could “amplify divisiveness.” Other companies, including Chick-fil-A and Costco, have maintained policies against employees displaying the slogan.

Employers generally enjoy a fair degree of control over what takes place on the job. Workers at Whole Foods may not have an organic right to showcase their political views. But if the company is allowing some expressions but not others, that seems like a policy destined for an expiration date in court.

A Boston Herald editorial wonders whether companies want their stores and other workplaces “to become soapboxes for personal and political expression.” Imagine the liberal feathers that would be ruffled by a cashier wearing a MAGA hat at the Cambridge Whole Foods that is the Massachusetts store cited in the lawsuit. “There really can’t be a some-but-not-all approach” to which views are permitted, says the Herald.

MICHAEL JONAS


FROM COMMONWEALTH

Teachers across Massachusetts are worried about returning to classrooms filled with students.

Attorney General  Maura Healey reluctantly rejects a Brookline bylaw that would have barred most fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and major rehabs.

Harvard clarifies that the Trump administration’s reversal on barring international students from attending universities offering only online classes did not apply to freshmen.

Gov. Charlie Baker extends the eviction and foreclosure moratorium.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt says he is eager for offshore wind development that works for all stakeholders. Bernhardt will make a decision later this year on Vineyard Wind.

Lottery sales show surprising strength.

Opinion: Two ex-prosecutors, Simon Cataldo and Kim West, flag concerns in House policing bill.


FROM AROUND THE WEB             

BEACON HILL

Lawmakers have filed 217 amendments to the pending House police reform bill that will be taken up starting today. (Boston Herald)

The Legislature’s foot-dragging in dealing with a slew of important topics has greatly strengthened Gov. Charlie Baker’s hand. (Boston Globe)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he opposes the changes to qualified immunity in the Senate police reform bill, calling it a dangerous “slippery slope” to go down. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Amherst Town Council refuses to cut its police budget despite pressure from two community groups. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Public pool users in Boston will need to register for a spot by the water online and be screened twice for COVID-19 symptoms, after Mayor Marty Walsh announces the reopening of two pools. (WGBH)

Response to the coronavirus has cost Quincy more than $6.5 million since the pandemic began, but officials hope much of that will be reimbursed by the federal government. (Patriot Ledger)

Mayor Marty Walsh tells the Trump administration that federal agents, which have been deployed to other US cities to combat crime, are not welcome in Boston. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is vowing to impose $1,000 fines on travelers coming to the state from COVID hotspots who don’t abide by a 14-day quarantine period or prove they aren’t infected. (WBUR)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Nearly three months after abandoning daily White House briefings on coronavirus, President Trump returns to the forum and concedes the pandemic is likely to get worse before it gets better. (Washington Post)

Immigration advocates criticize President Trump for a memo saying he will not count undocumented immigrants in the census count used for determining congressional representation. (MassLive)

US Reps. Jim McGovern and Ayanna Pressley question why the Northeast is getting a low percentage of USDA food available to help those in need, despite its high percentage of coronavirus cases. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Black Boston activist Monica Cannon-Grant went on a racist tirade, with a focus on interracial sex, in a video ripping a black Republican woman who is waging a write-in campaign against Rep. Ayanna Pressley. (Boston Herald)

US Rep. Seth Moulton has raised more money than both of his primary challengers. Meanwhile, one of his opponents is calling on Moulton to divest money given to him by a hedge fund manager with ties to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. (The Salem News)

After a bitter Democratic primary, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now a close policy advisor to soon-to-be presidential nominee Joe Biden. (Associated Press)

Former Republican Ohio governor John Kasich pens a Globe op-ed endorsing Democrat Joe Biden for president — without directly saying so or ever naming him. (The Associated Press reported on Monday that Kasich will speak at next month’s Democratic National Convention.)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Massachusetts Lottery earned its third largest profit in history despite the coronavirus-related shutdowns. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

A week after blistering letters from two different principal groups emerged ripping Boston school superintendent Brenda Cassellius’s leadership, the two groups say they want to work with her and regret that the missives were leaked. (Boston Globe)

Worcester blasts internet provider Spectrum for not helping the city provide affordable internet access to students. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association tentatively set a September 14 start date for fall sports. (MetroWest Daily News)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Worcester City Council votes against removing a statue of Christopher Columbus. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Rich Americans on average produce 25 percent more greenhouse gases at their homes than their poor counterparts. One example from Massachusetts: the typical Sudbury resident produces 9,700 pounds of greenhouse gases each year while a Dorchester resident creates 2,227 pounds. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Police chiefs voice strong opposition to the Legislature’s police reform bill. (The Salem News)

A Barnstable Superior Court judge heard a motion Tuesday to dismiss the case against Thomas Latanowich, the man accused of shooting and killing Yarmouth police Sgt. Sean Gannon. (Cape Cod Times)

A Springfield police officer pleads guilty to assault — and is facing a federal lawsuit — after forcing an angry civilian out of the police department lobby by his throat. (MassLive)

MEDIA

The New York Times Co. promoted its chief operating officer, Meredith Kopit Levien, to president and chief executive officer. (New York Times)