Trader Joe’s Alleged Termination is a Long List of What Not to Do

UPDATE: Trader Joe’s responded. Their response is at the bottom.

Trader Joe’s employee Ben Bonnema wrote a long letter to Trader Joe’s Ceo Dan Bane, detailing some health and safety issues Bonnema saw in his store.

Bonnema now claims that, in response to his letter, his management team fired him. I have not verified the termination with Trader Joe’s. I reached out to them, and hopefully, they will respond. However, here’s the termination notice.

To keep reading, including the update from Trader Joe’s, click here: Trader Joe’s Alleged Termination is a Long List of What Not to Do

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11 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Alleged Termination is a Long List of What Not to Do

    1. I apologize for the off-topic comment but it seems relevant here: When writing a post or comment that references something on another web site which you don’t control, it is becoming standard practice to make an archive copy of the target web page using or a similar service and post the link to the archive copy. That way if the other post gets modified or removed, whether by the other poster or by Twitter, your readers still see it as it was.

  1. Did that disrespect for customers happen to consist of refusing to let unmasked customers into the store?

    1. The termination letter seemed to make it pretty clear that the complaint email and its contents were the problem.

      1. Yes. Not only that but they also had to straw man him “You suggested implementing a 3 strike policy against our disabled customers” which he never said….

  2. This is my local Trader Joe’s, which I have not shopped at for 11 months, due to the issues he addressed. The TJ stores are set on a circuitous route with one door at the entry for fresh air. The nearby TJs is downstairs from the doors, meaning even less outside air mixes in.

    This plus the fact that the stores have a high volume of people (people stand outside for an hour before the store opens) makes me not trust the air. We are simply not talking enough about how COVID is transmitted—through small droplets in the air. All of the recommendations in Ben’s letter should have been workplace standard months ago in the US.

    I feel unsafe in their stores. Why do companies not see that they lose customers and endanger their workers when not paying attention to air quality?

  3. I think a further follow-up article is needed on this situation. TJ has a special setup (which is actually similar to a Stuart Leonards -a single entry with a circular path throughout the store). I know for a fact that the customers who frequent this store do it mainly for products and “claimed special service” which basically pampering the customer experience with extra help for everything (think how customer are pampered in Rodeo Drive), which means these customers don’t take NO as an answer. That means you, as an employee, have to be that type of customer service person. But COVID-19 threw a wrench into this type of customer service, especially in the distancing (TJ’s was notorious for always being crowded)and the mask mandate because these customers don’t view the staff as anything but a service person, unworthy of their attention unless they need something. I know that the closest TJ’s to me had to close down because most of the staff were infected with COVID-19, because of a lack of safety precautions, plus had to undergo a deep cleaning to reopen after the quarantine period. After that incident in several stores. TJ’s started the use of PPE, controlling the number of people, especially the mask mandates but some customers have become violent about it to the employees. Understandably some employees are concerned about their health risk, since grocery workers. despite being an essential service are still not allowed to sign up for vaccines unless they have one of the conditions listed as a priority. But that why we need a follow-up to this store because there’s more information from both sides and this is not the only retailer with negative comments about the lack of protective reactions to COVID-19, which failed to respond fast enough to prevent exposure. Now we have the problem that also needs those same companies to respond, which is getting their employees vaccinated by providing an effective method of distribution. Especially when they (the companies) desire to go back to full service for the customers.

  4. I’m glad that my county has had very specific protocols in place and at my TJ’s, they literally count how many people go in and out of the store to stay within the regulation.

    The letter writer does have some valid concerns, but we don’t know anything about his employment other than what we’ve been shown. His letter says, “”I was recently shouted and sworn at by a customer who would not wear a mask above his nose, despite Mates already asking him to do so,” Who knows maybe they record that incident and found he was doing some of the yelling and swearing. Proximity doesn’t always mean causation.

    1. His store is in Manhattan, and they very much do have specific protocols, as does Trader Joe’s itself – if we take his initial letter at face value, his store managers are allowing customers to ignore them.

      Of course, we don’t have to take his letter at face value, and it’s possible he himself did the yelling and swearing as you suggest – however his termination notice doesn’t say that. If he had actually been rude to customers, I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t cite that. If he had actually been rude to customers, they SHOULD have fired him for that – and not waited until he emailed the CEO.

  5. I’m sorry an employee lost his job because he expressed possible solutions to problems he felt were evident in his workplace environment. I think the CEO misread the employee’s email. The employee made suggestions for the CEO’s consideration, not demands. No one wants to lose their job because they made respectful suggestions. This is unfortunate for the employee. One positive is that the employee now knows his former organization didn’t want to hear from front-line workers. That is a poor leadership practice on the part of TJ.

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