Managers at a Northeast Portland Burgerville reportedly threatened to discipline workers for wearing buttons saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd.”
That’s according to a statement Thursday from the Burgerville Workers Union, which said it plans to respond by taking the Vancouver-based fast-food chain to court, and potentially other actions.
“Management threatened workers with discipline if they continued to voice support for the movement while on the job,” the union said in a statement. “The Burgerville Workers Union intends to both file legal charges against the company and to take direct action over the issue.”
Burgerville issued a response, saying it is an “ally for change,” but that company policy forbids the buttons.
“It is Burgerville company policy that employees working in restaurants may only distribute and wear buttons produced by Burgerville, and buttons related to terms and conditions of employment such as wages, benefits, and working conditions,” the company said.
The buttons show support for global protests against police brutality and systemic racism, most recently spurred by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. In Portland, protests have occurred every night for two weeks.
Burgerville's policy around buttons was revised after a similar case. In 2018, the company sent home 10 workers for wearing buttons that said "Abolish ICE." A month later, the company updated its uniform policy to ban buttons with statements, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.