Kroger employees say they were told 'Black Lives Matter' face coverings were not allowed

The employees said they wore their masks for months without any manager telling them to take it off.

The Kroger company says it strives to offer a workplace that is uplifting, inclusive and consistent with its values.

But two employees, who asked not to be identified for fear they would lose their jobs, are calling the company's policy into question after they were told they could no longer wear a mask that supported the Black Lives Matter movement.

Loading ...

“It made us feel like our voices didn't matter. Like we were not supported by our company," one employee said.

“We are not hurting anybody. We're not pushing the movement on anybody. We just wanted to simply use the mask as basically our voice,” a second employee said.

Kroger has a dress code that states, “no text or large logos of any kind." But the employees said they wore their masks for months without any manager telling them to take it off.

That changed, they say, when customers started to complain.

In response, the company created rubber bracelets which they say were made by a black-owned company.

The black bracelet reads “standing together" and a blue one that read "safety, diversity and inclusion."

“When I saw the bracelet it didn't look like anything that would support the Black Lives Matter movement," one employee said.

“To us, the bracelets don't stand for anything. The bracelet is just a plain black bracelet that says standing together,” another employee said.

In a statement, Kroger says the bracelets were distributed in July and "represents our commitment to Standing Together with our Black associates, customers and communities against racism in all forms, and the other to serve as a reminder of Our Values that guide us."

The company also said it created a 13-page document created by the African American Associate Resource Group to help spur conversations about race.

But these employees feel the company silenced their message.

“We're not going against Kroger. I mean they are good company, I've been working for Kroger there years in October. I just want the support and that they care about their associates,” one employee said.

Loading ...

“We want to have equality, we want to have equal rights and we want to be able to walk the streets without being fearful,” another employee said.

Full Statement from Kroger:

We do not have any policy directly related to BLM, what we have is an existing dress code that reflects no text or large logos of any kind. Many associates have expressed a desire to stand together with their communities and show their support through their clothing, facial coverings and accessories. While we are not adjusting our existing dress code, we acknowledge our associates’ feedback and want all to feel supported and heard. To offer a more consistent solution, we produced wristbands and made them available to all associates. Working with our partners, including a Black-owned supplier, we produced two wristband options, which were distributed in early July: one that represents our commitment to Standing Together with our Black associates, customers and communities against racism in all forms, and the other to serve as a reminder of Our Values that guide us.

In addition, we have provided an Allyship Guide for associates. The allyship guide was developed to spur reflective thoughts, hard conversations and bold actions. Associates will find resources and content motivational, insightful, eye-opening and, maybe even heartbreaking or infuriating. Our associates, including both Black and NonBlack associates, curated these materials based on our individual and shared experiences in society. You can view the guide at https://www.thekrogerco.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Kroger-Allyship-Guide.pdf.

At Kroger, we strive to offer a workplace that is uplifting, inclusive and consistent with Our Values: Integrity, Honesty, Diversity, Inclusion, Safety and Respect. Many associates have expressed a desire to stand together with their communities and show their support through their clothing, facial coverings and accessories. While we are not adjusting our existing dress code, rules or policies, we acknowledge our associates’ feedback and want all to feel supported and heard.

Loading ...

To offer a more consistent solution, we produced wristbands and made them available to all associates. Working with our partners, including a Black-owned supplier, we produced two wristband options, which were distributed in early July: one that represents our commitment to Standing Together with our Black associates, customers and communities against racism in all forms, and the other to serve as a reminder of Our Values that guide us.