Trader Joe’s Employee Says He Was Fired After Requesting COVID-19 Safety Measures

After sending a letter to CEO Dan Bane requesting additional COVID-19 safety measures for the grocery chain, Trader Joe's employee Ben Bonnema was terminated.


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Trader Joe’s allegedly terminated an employee of one of its New York City locations after the man sent a letter to the company’s CEO asking for the implementation of additional COVID-19 safety measures. 

In a tweet that has since gone viral, Ben Bonnema shared a screenshot of his letter to CEO Dan Bane, where he makes several requests for the benefit and safety of all Trader Joe’s employees. Bonnema asks for changes that include enhancements to the store’s HVAC system, lower customer occupancy, stricter mask enforcement, and a three-strike policy for customers who refuse to wear masks. 

“Unfortunately, ASHRAE and the CDC and OSHA have downplayed the dangers of aerosols since the pandemic’s origins, so saying that Trader Joe’s ‘exceeds their standards’ isn’t good enough,” he wrote in the letter. Bonnema also cites two articles to provide evidence for the need to further protect staff from airborne spread. 

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?

— Ben Bonnema (@BenBonnema) February 26, 2021

“We should be following the guidelines of scientists who study respiratory transmission,” he wrote. “We put our lives on the line every day by showing up to work. Please, show up for us by adopting these policies.” 

In response, the company sent Bonnema a termination letter dated February 26, which he also shared on Twitter. 

“In a recent email, you suggest adopting a ‘3 strike’ policy against customers and a policy enforcing the same accommodation for every customer with a medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask,” the termination letter read. “These suggestions are not in line with our core values.” 

The termination letter is citing Bonnema’s request that unmasked customers, who may have a medical condition, remain outside the store as employees shop for them to accommodate their needs.

here's the letter they gave me

— Ben Bonnema (@BenBonnema) February 26, 2021

“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,” the termination letter concluded.

In response, some plan to stop shopping at the grocery chain. 

Rethinking my need for #TraderJoes if they don't value and protect their staff.

— Holly Harvey (@HollixH) February 27, 2021

#TraderJoes will fire someone and *specifically* state their reason is bc of that letter.. meanwhile Sprouts is holding to the mask policy, paying us for time not worked during the ice storm, giving us hazard pay and bonuses last year. I wish everyone had it this good

— ✨Simply Chy✨ (@childishskates) February 27, 2021

So #TraderJoes is not only absent from minority communities, but reacts to legitimate employee concerns regarding covid-19 protocols and fires them. This should really tell you all you need to know.

— Vaccinated Baby Yoda (@urmomsbabyyoda) February 27, 2021

Other employees advocating for a Trader Joe’s union released a statement of their support for Bonnema on Twitter. 

“We’ve spoken with @BenBonnema and are extending unequivocal support and solidarity. We will not be providing comment outside what Ben decides to share, but are supporting him in every way possible in this fight,” Crew for a Trader Joe’s Union wrote. “An injury to one is an injury to all.” 

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