Trader Joe’s Employee Rehired at Columbus Avenue Store: ‘Big Win for Labor Rights’

Ben Bonnema.

Ben Bonnema, the Trader Joe’s employee who said he was fired for speaking up about safety concerns, has been rehired, according to the Daily Beast.

“It’s been a stressful week since then, but it makes sense that they offered to reinstate because it was a completely unlawful termination,” Bonnema said in a brief telephone call with The Daily Beast on Thursday.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bonnema had written a letter to the CEO of Trader Joe’s asking for the company to add safety measures, including better filters and rules that would keep customers from flouting mask regulations. A letter he posted about the firing said that some of his requests indicated he didn’t understand the company “values.” A Trader Joe’s spokesperson said that Bonnema was fired becauzse of how he treated customers, though Bonnema had also posted his performance review showing high marks.

A lawyer representing Bonnema told the Daily Beast that he may continue to pursue legal action.

“While we are pleased that Mr. Bonnema has been rightfully reinstated, we will continue to take all necessary legal action to repair his reputation that has been disparaged by the company through false accusations that my client engaged in misconduct,” attorney Benjamin Dictor said. “We are also committed to ensuring that no essential workers of Trader Joe’s face any further retaliation for raising concerns about their working conditions.”

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Ethan says:

      Good news, but I wonder what caused them to change their mind.

      • ben says:

        Bad publicity. It’s all about the optics.

      • PastramiBliss says:

        Bad PR. So much in this country is all about the dollar. It’s disgusting and why Communist ideals have gained traction among those under 40.

      • Sandy says:

        Likely their own employment counsel and the huge social media impact from the tweet.

        Very glad to see he was rehired; yet important to see what TJ stores implement for safety and ventilation.

        This gentleman provided excellent suggestions and unfortunately, what happened to him prevents others from speaking up. He’s to be commended.

      • Paul says:

        It’s an open and shut case. The company was breaking the law and it had to mitigate the damages.

    2. Joe says:

      The letter he wrote was completely inappropriate in tone, irrespective of the circumstances. I want to fire the smirk right off his face myself.

      • woody says:

        Sit down and educate yourself on employment law. Employees are allowed to speak their minds about their safety no matter the tone. Talk to a lawyer and learn.

      • w 71 resident says:

        Do you think he should have been more deferential in pointing out safety concerns? …or are you just mad that he was advocating for stricter rules against the anti-mask crowd?

      • Alan Barnes says:

        What was “inappropriate” was TJ’s response to his complaints. The safety of employees is directly related to the safety of customers. What affects them affects us. Now, let’s see if they address the concerns he’s raised.

      • sg says:

        Agreed…I really can’t stand the gall of young people. No doubt some people probably think he should be made a VP.

        • Bob Lamm says:

          Ageism is bigotry–whether it’s the ageism of older people toward younger people or vice versa.

    3. PTFLynn says:

      His letter had legit suggestions. His concern was for the employees and the customers. Bravo for Ben being a brave whistle blower.

    4. cated says:

      Now let’s see Chris Smalls rehired as a union employee at Amazon.

    5. Bruce Bernstein says:

      Bonnema and his colleagues are defending the rights of essential workers to safety, and are also sticking up for the safety of the customers.

      Further, in supporting unionization, they are in line with President Biden’s expressed sentiments as to how to aid the position of workers — the vast majority — in the American economy.

      Bonnema is a brave person. But there’s a word I like even more that accurately describes him and his TJ coworkers: PATRIOTS.

    6. charles D hoffman says:

      that’s the job of the store’s union rp
      why is this guy playing hero

    7. Bruce Bernstein says:

      guys, TJ’s is non-union. That’s a big part of the point.