- Home Depot suspended a worker who refused to remove a Black Lives Matter logo, a labor agency said.
- The NLRB said the worker, who eventually quit, spoke to colleagues about racial discrimination.
- Home Depot said the complaint "misrepresents the relevant facts."
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
A Minneapolis Home Depot employee who wore a Black Lives Matter logo on his apron and spoke to other workers about racial discrimination was suspended after he refused to remove the logo, according to a labor board complaint.
The Minneapolis branch of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said in the complaint that the worker started wearing the "BLM" lettering on his apron in August 2020. Sometime this year, the company told the employee to either remove the logo or leave the store, the complaint said. This led to him being suspended, it said.
The Home Depot store then gave the worker an ultimatum: stop wearing the logo or quit, the complaint said. In a statement on August 18, The NLRB accused the hardware giant of constructive discharge because the employee eventually left his job. Home Depot "unlawfully enforced its otherwise lawful dress code" and "threatened employees not to engage in activity regarding racial harassment," it said.
The unnamed worker had "various conversations with coworkers, supervisors, and managers about subjects such as ongoing discrimination and harassment" at the store in Minneapolis, the complaint said, although it did not provide further details.
Home Depot told Insider that the complaint "misrepresents the relevant facts."
"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," a spokeswoman said.
"We disagree with the characterization of this situation and look forward to sharing the facts during the NLRB's process," she said.
While the hardware store's dress code prohibits displays of "causes or political messages unrelated to workplace matters," the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) allows workers to bring attention to discrimination they may be facing in the workplace, the NLRB said.
"Issues of racial harassment directly impact the working conditions of employees," Jennifer Hadsall, NLRB's regional director in Minneapolis, said in a statement.
"The NLRA protects employees' rights to raise these issues with the goal of improving their working conditions," she said.
Many companies were vocal in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Craig Menear, Home Depot's CEO, said in a statement at the time that "we must stand with all who are committed to change that will bring us closer to realizing an end to discrimination and hatred."
The complaint said that a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge would happen in October, unless Home Depot and the worker reach a settlement before that.
The NLRB did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.