This Is Why People Are Now Boycotting Trader Joe's

Customers are up in arms after a former employee revealed why he was recently fired.

The pandemic has been a challenge to navigate, both for individuals and for workplaces. Stores are now hoping that an influx of customers can alleviate the financial losses brought on by COVID, but one fan-favorite grocery store may find themselves experiencing a wave of lost profits soon. Controversial corporate decisions made by Trader Joe's have many customers announcing that they will be boycotting the company until changes are made. Read on to find out what has customers so upset, and for more retail news, This Iconic Store Is Closing All Its U.S. Locations.

Customers are boycotting Trader Joe's because an employee was fired after voicing his concerns over the store's safety.

Reston, USA - April 9, 2020: Social distancing sign at cashier check-out aisle inside Trader Joe's grocery shop store during coronavirus with woman employee in mask
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Customers are calling for a boycott of Trader Joe's after a former New York employee said he was fired for expressing his concerns about store safety policies. On Feb. 26, Ben Bonnema tweeted that he had been fired from his job at a Trader Joe's in Manhattan. According to Bonnema's tweets, he was fired in response to a letter he wrote "advocating for a safer workplace" amid the COVID pandemic. In a reply to another user, Bonnema said that his store had had "four positive cases in [their] crew in the last three weeks."

"Time to start a boycott of Trader Joes. Disgusting way to treat their staff," one user tweeted as a response to Bonnema. Don Milton, MD, one of more than a dozen scientists who recently urged the Biden administration to set better air standards in workplaces, tweeted that he had planned on shopping at Trader Joe's later that afternoon but would be taking his "business elsewhere" and boycotting the company until Bonnema is reinstated. And for more companies that have angered their customers, This Online Store Has the Worst Customer Service in America.

The employee sent a letter asking the Trader Joe's CEO to enhance COVID protections.

August 16, 2020 customer at Trader Joe's at Chelsea lining up with masks for the register, New York City, USA
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Bonnema tweeted out the letter he said he sent to the CEO of Trader Joe's, Dane Bane, asking for better COVID protections at his store in NYC. He laid out a series of air filtration upgrades and other precautions he suggested should be adopted at the store. "These changes can only come with your approval," he stated in his letter. "We put our lives on the line everyday by showing up to work. Please, show up for us by adopting these policies." And for more on coronavirus transmission, If You've Done This Recently, You're 70 Percent More Likely to Get COVID.

His termination report said he doesn't understand the "values" of Trader Joe's.

Reston, USA - March 18, 2020: Trader Joe's store inside indoors saying making request for customers to limit purchase to two items and full grocery cart with people and shopping cart
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In his series of tweets, Bonnema said Trader Joe's fired him for sending the letter. According to the termination report he shared, the company said it felt that it was "clear" Bonnema did not share Trader Joe's "values."

"These suggestions are not in line with our core values," the termination report stated. "In addition, you state that Trader Joe's is not 'showing up for us' without adopting your policies. It is clear that you do not understand our values. As a result, we are no longer comfortable having you work for Trader Joe's." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

A representative for Trader Joe's said Bonnema was fired for "disrespect" toward customers.

Reston, USA - July 23, 2020: Wearing is caring sign inside Trader Joe's grocery shop store during coronavirus outbreak pandemic with request to wear face mask covering when shopping
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On Feb. 27, a representative for Trader Joe's told Insider that store leadership terminated Bonnema's employment "because of the disrespect he showed toward our customers." Insider did not reference what disrespect Bonnema had shown, but his termination report referenced the "3 strikes" policy Bonnema had suggested against customers who refuse to wear masks.

In Bonnema's original letter to the CEO, he asked that the company adopt a "3 strikes" policy for removing uncooperative people from the store, as well as not allowing anyone inside the store without a mask for any reason—including medical exemptions, which Bonnema said could be accommodated by having store workers offer to shop for them. "I was recently shouted and sworn at by a customer who would not wear his mask above his nose, despite Mates already asking him to do so. He was allowed to finish his shopping and check out," Bonnema stated in his letter.

"We have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member's employment for raising safety concerns," the spokesperson told Insider. "Nothing is more important at Trader Joe's than the safety of our Crew Members and customers. We encourage all Crew Members to take an active role in store safety, and share their suggestions with leadership. During his short tenure with Trader Joe's, this Crew Member's suggestions were listened to, and appropriately addressed." And for more recent retail news, This Popular Pizza Chain Just Filed for Bankruptcy.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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