- A former Trader Joe’s employee said he was fired after asking for better COVID-19 protections.
- Scientists have voiced their support for the employee’s “science-based request.”
- Trader Joe’s says the worker was fired because of “the disrespect he showed toward our customers.”
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Scientist have spoken out in defense of former Trader Joe’s employee Ben Bonnema, who alleged that he was fired for writing a letter to the grocery store’s management asking for more stringent COVID-19 protections.
Bonnema, who was employed at a Trader Joe’s location in New York City, posted on Twitter that he sent a letter to the company’s CEO, Dan Bane, asking that the company improve air filtration and take other precautions to protect employees from the coronavirus.
He also posted an image of what he described as a letter he received terminating him from the company. The paperwork referenced the letter and said that his suggestions were not in line with the “core Values” of the company.
In his letter to Bane, Bonnema cited another missive sent by scientists to the Biden administration asking for better ventilation standards for workplaces.
Kimberly Prather, a professor at UC San Diego, posted on Twitter that she was one of the writers of the Biden letter. She also spoke out in support of Bonnema.
“We wrote this letter to protect people like Ben,” Prather wrote. “His letter is an excellent science-based request.”
Another writer of the Biden letter and former head of OSHA David Michaels tweeted “I’m one of the scientists who wrote the letter calling for better protection for workers exposed to aerosol particles. Retaliation for raising safety concerns is against the law.”
In addition to calling for inspections, some customers have said that they will boycott shopping at the grocery chain, Insider reported.
Bonnema wrote in a reply to his original Tweet: “another reason for @TraderJoesUnion”.
As The Guardian reported, the grocery store chain has suppressed unionizing efforts during the pandemic. The Guardian reported that, in March of 2020, the CEO sent a letter to staff saying that unionization efforts were “a distraction.”
Trader Joe’s said in a statement that Bonnema was terminated because of “the disrespect he showed toward our customers.” A representative added that “we have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member’s employment for raising safety concerns.”
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