Costco employees sent home for wearing BLM masks
The big-box retailer is now enforcing a dress code that bans 'political' messages
Ever since Costco began requiring all employees to wear masks in late April, workers have been allowed to rock face coverings that feature rainbow flags, fun designs and slogans of their choice. But over the last month employees wearing Black Lives Matter apparel say they’ve been unfairly targeted by management.
According to Buzzfeed, employees at several of Costco’s nearly 550 US warehouses claim that despite its public statements about supporting Black employees following the death of George Floyd, behind the scenes the company has been punishing staff for supporting BLM.
They are using a policy that prohibits political and controversial attire. The policy was read by managers at internal meetings to discuss it and recorded by employees.
Given the current social and political climate, we recognize that applying these guidelines can be challenging when it comes to pictures and writing on clothing and other items. To maintain the standards going forward, we expect that attire will be free from pictures or writing or items deemed political or controversial in nature.
One frustrated worker even took to social media to post a strongly worded letter of resignation to the company’s CEO, while another started a petition that’s already gathered nearly 1,800 signatures seeking to “Stop Costco From Silencing Black Lives Matter!
Following Floyd’s murder and the social justice uprising that it sparked, the company’s CEO, Craig Jelinek, wrote to employees assuring them that the company remained “committed to taking care of our employees, building a diverse workforce,” and “treating each other in a fair, honest, respectful and inclusive way.”
But when Niko Bracy, a cashier at a Costco warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, found out that six of his colleagues were sent home just for wearing Black Lives Matter masks, he penned a public letter to Jelinek announcing his resignation.
“As a citizen of the United States of America, I have a right to refuse to dedicate my time, my labor, and my talents to a company that believes I am essential enough to risk my life, but not essential enough to stand against my death,” he wrote.
Since then many others have come forward to say that what happened at that one store is far from an isolated incident, highlighting the hypocrisy of what Costco is saying to the public versus their actual position towards Black employees and their allies.
While Jenelik flew out from Seattle to Louisville to address the workers unease with the policy, nothing was resolved, say those workers who left the meeting feeling more frustrated than ever.
“He just sincerely doesn’t get it,” one of the employees in the meeting said.