Trader Joe said the employee was not fired for raising safety concerns, but for “the lack of respect he showed towards our customers.”
Former Trader Joe employee says he has been fired for calling for increased COVID-19 safety precautions, particularly to request that employees be given the ability to remove customers who are not wearing masks from stores.
On Friday, New York City resident Ben Bonema tweeted that he had just been fired from his position as a crew member at Trader Joe’s 545 store in the Upper West Side of New York City over a letter he sent to the company’s CEO requesting additional workplace safety measures due to the virus. Corona. . He posted an email to his tweet, which went viral and has been retweeted nearly 40,000 times so far.
In the letter Dan Bean sent to the company’s CEO earlier this month, Bonnema cited new studies on the risks of transmission of aerosols to the Coronavirus and called on Trader Joe to adopt more practices to improve air purification and circulation, as well as monitor carbon dioxide levels in its stores. .
Bonnema also requested that new company policies be enacted to allow employees to prevent anyone without a mask from being allowed inside Trader Joe’s and to give employees the right to remove clients without masks or those wearing masks incorrectly.
“A customer recently yelled at me and swore to me he wouldn’t wear his mask over his nose, though [Trader Joe’s employees] He is already asked to do so. He was allowed to finish shopping and leave. “
“ADA requires that we provide reasonable facilities, which we do by offering them shopping. If they refuse, we shouldn’t let them in,” he wrote. He suggested adopting a “three-strike policy” in order to “get uncooperative people out of our stores.”
“These changes can only come with your consent,” he said. “We put our lives on the line every day by showing up at work. Please show us to adopt these policies.”
Trader spokesperson Joe Kenya Friend-Daniel refuted Bonnema’s claims that he was fired for his message in a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying the company “[had] Never and will not terminate a crew member to raise safety concerns. “
“Nothing is more important to Trader Joe’s than the safety of our crew and customers,” she said. “During his short tenure with Trader Joe’s, this crew member’s suggestions were heard and appropriately addressed. Store leadership terminated the crew member’s work due to the lack of respect he showed towards our customers.”
However, according to what appears to be an Official notice From the hiring termination Bonnema posted on his Twitter account, it was his suggestion about improving workplace safety by forcing the wearing of a mask that led to his dismissal.
In a recent email, you are proposing to adopt a “three strikes policy” against clients and a policy that imposes the same facilities on every client with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. These suggestions are not in line with our core values. Additionally, you acknowledge that Trader Joe’s does not. It appears to us “without approving your policies.”
“You clearly don’t understand our values. As a result, we are no longer comfortable working for Trader Joe’s.”
However, according to what appears to be an official performance review that Bonnema posted on Twitter, in August it scored exemplary marks in the “Customer Performance” and “Values” categories.
In particular, the review praised customer service. “We appreciate the dedication and care you give to our customers every day, as you continue to have thoughtful interaction with them on the registry and on the sales floor … It is my absolute pleasure to be with us. The good work continues.”
BuzzFeed News asked Trader Joe’s if the documents shared on Twitter are legitimate and for clarity about Bonnema’s tenure and performance.
Bonema has maintained legal representation to fight his “retaliatory termination” and is planning to bring his case to the National Labor Relations Board, his lawyer, Benjamin Dector, told BuzzFeed News in a statement Sunday.
(Dictor is also an attorney for NewsGuild of New York, which represents the editorial staff at BuzzFeed News.)
“Mr. Bonnema’s clean work record with the company is nothing but additional evidence that the company’s decision to fire him from his job was an unlawful attempt to threaten, restrict and coerce Mr Bonnema and his co-workers from engaging in protected coordinated activity,” he said. . “Mr. Bonnema has a federally protected right to defend the safety of his co-workers in the workplace. Terminating it for doing so is reprehensible.”
BuzzFeed News correspondent Salvador Hernandez contributed to writing this article.