Partner Michelle De Oliveira was quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “ ‘Alternate explanation’ sinks suit over ‘Black Lives Matter’ mask ban” from July 8th.  The article discusses a recent 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Frith, et al. v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., et al., holding that Whole Foods employees who were disciplined for wearing Black Lives Matter face masks had not pled viable discrimination or retaliation claims.

Read the full article from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscriber content).

From the article:

Southborough employment attorney Michelle M. De Oliveira said Frith is a good reminder that the phrase “because of” is critical in the context of a Title VII discrimination claim.

“There must be a nexus between the alleged discriminatory treatment and the person’s protected trait,” De Oliveira said. “When pleading a Title VII discrimination claim, spending time fleshing out the factual allegations in the complaint that show that the alleged discrimination was ‘because of’ a protected trait is key. It is a must.”

While the right may not be unlimited, the court’s decision also affirms that private employers may control “mass expression of a controversial message by employees in their stores,” she added.