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Why Is Whole Foods Suing This Pastor for Over $100,000?

Why Is Whole Foods Suing This Pastor for Over $100,000?

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Published April 19th

Whole Foods and a gay pastor are engaged an an ugly legal battle... over a cake.

Jordan Brown, a 30-year-old openly gay pastor in Austin, Texas, is suing the Whole Foods grocery chain after he says an employee wrote a homophobic slur in frosting on top of a cake he ordered. Whole Foods is denying the claim and says that the employee in the question is a member of the LGBTQ community as well.

Brown claims that the cake he ordered from the upscale grocery chain was meant to say "Love Wins" in icing, but someone added a little something extra and it read, "Love Win F*g." The openly gay pastor, founder of the Church of Open Doors, filmed a video of receiving the cake, showing that the box's seal had not been broken.

(Photo: Jordan Brown via Facebook)

In the video Brown said, "I have had to face years of discrimination and judgment for something that I had no control over." He added that the experience brought back years of trauma from discrimination he experienced growing up. 

Whole Foods has come forward to deny any responsibility for the slur, "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," the statement read. "Our team member do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive... We stand behind our bakery member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from our store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message 'Love Wins.'"

In fact, Whole Foods is now counter-suing Brown for making a false derogatory claim, and has released security camera footage of the bakery team accused of the hate crime to prove their innocence. Whole Foods says Brown “intentionally, knowingly and falsely accused Whole Foods and its employees of writing the homophobic slur… on a custom made cake that he ordered from WFM’s Lamar Store in Austin…”

The suit denies those claims, and accuses Brown of acting “with malice, and he has damaged the reputation and business of WFM.” The lawsuit seeks at least $100,000 in damages from Brown. 

Austin Kaplan, Brown's attorney, paints a radically different picture. He said that Whole Foods took days to respond to any request from Brown, and it wasn't until three days of silence that Brown decided to file his suit. Kaplan spoke to KEYETV: "We had no choice but to do this," he said. "Whole Foods did not respond when we alerted them to the situation."

Brown's legal team says they are not interested in a monetary payoff, but instead simply hopes that the employee responsible will be punished, and that the store will take proper measures to ensure that something like this wont happen in the future. 

Classic case of he said, she said.

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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