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Trader Joe’s worker fired after raising COVID-19 concerns with management

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An employee at one of America’s largest grocery store chains has been fired for suggesting customers be subject to a “three strikes policy” when they fail to wear their masks properly.

Ben Bonnema’s story went viral this week after the former Manhattan-based Trader Joe’s employee shared a letter on social media that he wrote to management.

The letter outlined Mr Bonnema’s concerns about the store’s ability to keep employees safe from COVID-19 after four staff members tested positive to coronavirus in the last three weeks.

Mr Bonnema suggested there could be a limit placed on the number of people in the store at any one time and that filtration could be improved. He cited the “more than a dozen scientists” who recently urged US President Joe Biden to push for better air standards in workplaces around the country.

In his letter, Mr Bonnema wrote that himself and several other workers at the store had recommended nobody be allowed inside the store without a mask “for any reason”.

“The ADA requires that we offer (customers) reasonable accommodation, which we do by offering to shop for them,” he wrote. “If they refuse, we should not let them in.”

Later, he wrote that customers who wear masks too low on their face should get three warnings before being banned.

“Adopt a 3 strikes policy when it comes to removing uncooperative people from our stores. I was recently shouted and sworn at by a customer who would not wear his mask above his nose despite his mates asking him to do so.

“He was allowed to finish his shopping and check out.”

After receiving Mr Bonnema’s letter, Trader Joe’s sent a letter back informing him that he would no longer be working there.

“In a recent email, you suggest adopting a 3 strike policy against customers and a policy enforcing the same accommodation for every customer with a medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask,” the letter reads.

“These suggestions are not in line with our core values … It is clear that you do not understand our values. As a result we are no longer comfortable having you work for Trader Joe’s.”

Mr Bonnema shared the two letters on Twitter in a post that was liked more than 180,000 times.

In the comments, he wrote that his letter to management was an effort to make his “coworkers feel safer”.

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