Customers say they're boycotting Trader Joe's after the chain fired an employee who asked the CEO to enhance COVID-19 protections

  • People are calling for a boycott of Trader Joe's after an employee said he was fired.

  • Ben Bonnema said he had asked the company to do more to protect its workers from COVID-19.

  • Bonnema shared his termination letter on Twitter, and it went viral.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Trader Joe's is facing calls for a boycott after firing an employee in New York.

Ben Bonnema said on Twitter on Friday that he was fired from his job at the Trader Joe's on the Upper West Side after he asked the company to better protect its workers against the coronavirus.

Bonnema shared the letter he had sent to the grocery chain's CEO in which he requested five COVID-19-related changes, including stricter mask requirements, enhanced store filtration, and a "three strike policy" for dealing with uncooperative shoppers.

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

Bonnema said he received a termination letter shortly after sending his requests. The letter he posted said he did not share the grocery chain's "core Values."

—Ben Bonnema (@BenBonnema) February 26, 2021

"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. 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."

Bonnema's tweet spurred other Twitter users to call for a boycott of the grocery chain, which has over 500 locations across the US.

—Damian Keenan (@NorthWestEU) February 28, 2021

—dond (@donnyd26) February 27, 2021

—Michelle Jones (@Michell49685689) February 27, 2021

—Don Milton (@Don_Milton) February 27, 2021

—Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) February 28, 2021

—Rob Gill (@vote4robgill) February 27, 2021

A Twitter account associated with a workers union for the grocery chain expressed support for Bonnema.

—Crew for a Trader Joe’s Union ✊🌺 (@TraderJoesUnion) February 27, 2021

The company did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment about the calls for a boycott.

A representative for Trader Joe's told Insider in a statement on Saturday that the store leadership's decision to terminate Bonnema stemmed from the "disrespect he showed toward our customers."

"We have never, and would never, terminate a Crew Member's employment for raising safety concerns," the representative said.

"Nothing is more important at Trader Joe's than the safety of our Crew Members and customers," the representative added. "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."

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