Trader Joe’s employee claims he was fired for suggesting better COVID-19 protections
A former employee of Trader Joe’s claims he was fired after he wrote a letter suggesting ways the grocery chain could improve its COVID-19 protections for workers.
Ben Bonnema, who worked for a Trader Joe’s store in New York City’s Upper West Side, shared the letter on Twitter, describing ways the company can bolster protocols protecting its employees.
Changes suggested in the letter included improving air filtration within stores, limiting store capacity based on carbon dioxide levels, not allowing anyone in stores without a mask, and adopting a “3 strikes” policy for uncooperative shoppers.
In a subsequent tweet, Bonnema shared what appears to be a crew member incident report from Trader Joe’s detailing his termination.
“Trader joe’s just fired me for sending this letter to the ceo, saying i don’t share the company values,” wrote Bonnema. “I guess advocating for a safer workplace isn’t a company value?”
Retail:Apple reopens all of its 270 stores across the US with coronavirus protocols still in effect
COVID-19:Local pharmacies say they need more COVID-19 vaccines as CVS, Walgreens ramp up shots
“These suggestions are not in line with our core values,” reads the report. “In addition, you state that Trader Joe’s is not ‘showing up for us’ without adopting your policies. It is clear you do not understand our values.”
In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Trader Joe’s spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel characterizes the claims as “misinformation.”
“During his short tenure with Trader Joe’s, this Crew Member’s suggestions were listened to, and appropriately addressed,” reads a portion of the statement. “Store leadership terminated this Crew Member’s employment because of the disrespect he showed toward our customers. We have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member’s employment for raising safety concerns.”
Bonnema went on to share what appears to be a copy of a performance review which shows “perfect marks.”
Last month, Trader Joe’s announced it was boosting hazard pay for its employees amid the pandemic. With the $2 an hour boost, employees would receive a temporary $4 an hour extra as a “Thank You” wage for their work during the pandemic.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Bonnema’s lawyer, Benjamin Dictor, said he plans to present his case before the National Labor Relations Board.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.