Is it right for employees to show pride or policy?
Facebook has created new requirements for their internal social network outlining that all employees must have their profile pictures as either themselves or their initials — this means no politically charged photos are able to be profile pictures.
On the contrary, Starbucks coffee chain has officially announced that all employees will be allowed to wear, Black Lives Matter (BLM) apparel. “Starbucks also produced 250,00 Black Lives Matter shirts for any Barista wanting to wear one,” said Heather Murphy from The New York Times.
Companies seem to be divided over whether they are in support of their employees wearing BLM gear. Some claim they are afraid of losing potential customers.
Facebook claims that they changed their requirements because employees were complaining about seeing the pictures pop up in their daily newsfeed when they are just trying to work. Employees claimed they would rather have a choice on what they see — if they would like to use their voice and debate, it should be on their own terms and choices.
Many employees are frustrated; if the company they work for doesn’t let them wear BLM apparel, they feel it is infringing on their First Amendment rights.
Legally, the National Labor Relations Act says certain companies are allowed to restrict what their employees wear, but it must be done in a non discriminatory fair way and should not break any other laws that are already in place. But in order for them to do so, the apparel must be somehow taking profit from the company’s business. The chances of a company forcing all employees to not wear a BLM mask or shirt are very slim.
However, the First Amendment only protects people from “unreasonable restrictions on speech by the government,” so employees can get confused and think that their rights are being violated. However, they are not being infringed upon unless they are being targeted and the company made the decision out of some sort of bias, or in an unfair way.
As a Barista myself, I’m proud to work for a company that is so open minded. Seeing them support a movement that has good intentions reveals the company’s character and their willingness to change with the upcoming times and different movements going on.
The BLM movement, which started in 2013, has caused many debates and tensions in today’s society, especially recently. However, this is just a new topic regarding the movement involving the employees and their apparel choices. To start, the BLM movement wasn’t started to undermine other races — it was started to raise awareness that African Americans should be treated equally by the law and other places.
“At its most basic level, the Black Lives Matter movement calls for a shift in the statistics that Black people are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, compared to a white individual,” said Lizz Schumer from GoodHousekeeping.
It is not the BLM movement’s intent to say that other lives do not matter; it is raising awareness to the lives that are in peril today. One way to look at it is when a person attends a zoo and they see an animal with a sign that says “endangered” in front of it. The person visiting the zoo does not assume that all of the other animals’ lives do not matter. The sign simply was put in front of the animal to raise awareness.
Whether or not a person thinks it is right or wrong to wear BLM merchandise at work, it’s best to conduct research and see which companies align better with their views of the movement. If someone does not agree with Starbucks creating shirts for their partners to support a movement, then they can choose to put their money into a different company that better aligns with their own values.
Because of the history behind BLM, I believe companies should allow employees to represent the movement through their apparel choices, if it fits in their dress code rules. It is not harmful when a person wears a shirt or pin that represents BLM.
Black lives are the lives that are currently in peril and the movement focuses on helping the people whose lives are most at risk right now. If the odds were against you, wouldn’t you want someone to raise awareness and help you?