Trader Joe's said they "have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member's employment for raising safety concerns"

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 02, 2021 09:27 AM
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Trader Joe's
| Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty

A New York City man claims he was fired from Trader Joe's after writing a letter to the company calling for stricter COVID safety guidelines.

On Friday, Ben Bonnema tweeted that he had been terminated from his job at the grocery store chain's Upper West Side location in Manhattan, sharing the letter he claims he sent to the chain's CEO Dan Bane. In the letter, Bonnema included sources about the dangers of COVID-19 transmission indoors via aerosol particles, asking that corporate make adjustments to filtration systems to better protect customers and staff.

Bonnema also suggested not letting anyone into the store without a mask "for any reason," adding that they should "adopt a '3 strikes' policy" to remove "uncooperative people from our stores."

"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 wrote, later adding, "We put our lives on the line everyday [sic] by showing up to work. Please, show up for us by adopting these policies."

Bonnema also shared the termination letter he said he was issued on Feb. 26, claiming that the memo he wrote did not align with the company's values.

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"In a recent email, you suggest adopting a '3 strike' policy against customers and a policy enforcing the same accomodation for every customer with a medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask. These suggestions are not in line with our core Values," reads the letter shared by Bonnema. "In addition, you state that Trader Joe's is not 'showing up for us' without adopting your policies."

"Trader Joe's just fired me for sending this letter to the ceo, saying i don't share the company values. i guess advocating for a safer workplace isn't a company value?" Bonnema wrote in his tweet, which has since gathered nearly 200,000 likes and 40,000 retweets, as of Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Trader Joe's did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Trader Joe's spokesperson said, "We have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member's employment for raising safety concerns." They added that Bonnema was fired "because of the disrespect he showed toward our customers."

"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," read the statement. "During his short tenure with Trader Joe's, this Crew Member's suggestions were listened to, and appropriately addressed." 

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