A Whole Foods customer said that the supermarket allegedly inscribed an anti-gay slur onto the customizable cake he ordered from the bakery department, as reported by KXAN. Brown is filing a lawsuit against Whole Foods, which denies the claim.
Pastor Jordan Brown, who is gay, picked up the cake from the North Lamar flagship on Thursday, April 14, for a member of his church. He asked the bakery to inscribe "Love Wins" onto the cake, but he realized that there was an extra word ("f*g") during his drive back. He recorded a video depicting the cake in question.
Brown called Whole Foods, and an employee told him that the person in question would be fired, and that he would receive a gift card and new cake. Then, he received a second call later, where the same staffer said that the market believed it wasn't in the wrong. Whole Foods later released the following statement on its website:
Our team member wrote "Love Wins" at the top of the cake as requested by the guest, and that’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination. We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from the store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message "Love Wins."
In a press conference held with his lawyer Austin Kaplan yesterday, Brown said, "Saying ‘f*g’ is the same as calling me a ‘n*gga.’" Kaplan added in a separate statement:
Pastor Brown never asked for this to happen. He continues to be overwhelmed by the feelings of pain, anguish, and humiliation because of this incident [...] He frequently shopped at Whole Foods, which makes this all the more shocking and disappointing. What really concerns him is knowing that unless some action is taken, this kind of thing could happen again, and that someone else might have to go through a similarly excruciating experience.
Update, 1:30 p.m.: Whole Foods responded again and will be taking legal action against Brown, stating that his allegation is false. The supermarket distributed security footage of the day in question where Brown is seen paying for the cake. The way the cashier scanned the cake implies that the bar code was on top of the box, rather than on the side as seen in Brown's video. The full statement follows:
After a deeper investigation of Mr. Brown’s claim, we believe his accusations are fraudulent and we intend to take legal action against both Mr. Brown and his attorney. Here’s what we know:
- Our bakery team member wrote "Love Wins" at the top of the cake, which was visible to Mr. Brown through the clear portion of the packaging. That’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Whole Foods Market has a strict policy that prohibits team members from accepting or designing bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.
- Mr. Brown admits that he was in sole possession and control of the cake until he posted his video, which showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box.
- After reviewing our security footage of Mr. Brown, it’s clear that the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package. This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box, which you can view here.
- We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and we appreciate the team members and shoppers who recognize that this claim is completely false and directly contradicts Whole Foods Market’s inclusive culture, which celebrates diversity.
Yours Truly, Whole Foods Market
Update, May 16, 9 a.m.: Brown is dropping the lawsuit against Whole Foods, as reported by KEYE. His full statement follows:
Today I am dismissing my lawsuit against Whole Foods Market. The company did nothing wrong. I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story. I want to apologize to Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company's commitment to its values, and especially the bakery associate who I understand was put in a terrible position because of my actions. I apologize to the LGBT community for diverting attention from real issues. I also want to apologize to my partner, my family, my church family, and my attorney.
Update, May 17, 10:30 a.m.: Whole Foods is also dropping its countersuit, as reported by New York Times.