A Texas pastor files a lawsuit against Whole Foods on Monday alleging an employee wrote an anti-gay slur on his cake
Whole Foods denies the allegation and has filed a countersuit against Brown and his attorney, legal documents say
He apologized to “Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company’s commitment to its values.” He also specifically apologized to the employee he originally alleged was responsible for the offensive cake, along with the LGBT community, his family, church and legal representation.
A Texas pastor filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods on Monday. Jordan Brown says he was given a custom cake that was decorated with an anti-gay sentiment.
Brown, who is an openly gay man, is suing the grocery store for emotional distress, claiming the Austin store is responsible for the actions of its employees.
“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,” his lawyer, Austin Kaplan, said in a statement.
Following Brown’s statement, Whole Foods issued a statement of their own saying it was “pleased” that the matter had been resolved with Brown’s apology and the cessation of legal action.
In April, Brown said he requested that the cake say, “Love Wins,” but received a cake that said “Love Wins Fag” instead.
When he noticed the offensive word on the cake, he said he was humiliated, disappointed and shocked. Overwhelmed with emotion, he didn’t want to return to the store and cause a scene. Brown called the corporate office to tell them what happened and was sent to voice mail. After that, he called the store and spoke to the manager, who apologized and offered him a gift card and replacement cake.
The store manager called him back a few hours later. Brown said the manager said the bakery associate did nothing wrong. There was no apology, and it appeared the offer for the gift card and replacement cake had been revoked, according to the lawsuit.
Whole foods denied the allegations, stating that it has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination. The offer and apology was later rescinded following an internal investigation.
“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,” Whole Foods said. “Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.”
That leaves the court of public opinion – the Internet – wondering whose story is correct. On one side are people on social media who speculate Brown’s story is a hoax.
“That handwriting is different and the thickness of the frosting is inconsistent, this is the work of an amateur,” Elinor Wolfa wrote on Twitter.
“You picked it up, paid for it THEN went home and decided to take action?!? No chance this is true,” Jason Grose wrote on Twitter.
Others are standing with Brown, offended by the slur and upset that this would happen. Some have promoted the theory that a second employee got hold of the cake and added the slur before selling it to Brown.
“The icing looks the same color. Could another employee have done that and resealed it with another sticker?” Susan Phillips Borgersrode wrote in a Facebook comment.
“I don’t believe for a second that the pastor wrote the word fag on his own cake, but I do believe it’s entirely possible that a second bakery associate added it after the cake had been finished by the first associate,” Caitlin Samara wrote in a Facebook comment.
On Tuesday, Whole Foods attempted to put the mystery to rest by releasing the surveillance video of Brown buying the cake.
“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,” Robin Kelly, Whole Foods spokesperson, said in a statement. “This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box.”
Brown’s claim is false and directly contradicts Whole Foods Market’s inclusive culture, which celebrates diversity, Kelly said.
“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,” Kelly said.
CNN was unable to reach Brown’s lawyer for a comment about the countersuit.