Whole Foods is a market that prides themselves on their environmental and social awareness. However, one of their employees didn’t get the memo about the “social” awareness. Emily Goldman and her autistic brother Michael were the victims of extreme insensitivity while shopping at a Whole Foods Market in Milwaukee, WI. Michael (who has difficulty communicating) swiped some food while the two were shopping. The security guard on duty saw Michael stealing food and confronted the two shoppers. When Emily realized what had transpired she immediately apologized, explained her brother’s condition, and offered to pay for the food Michael had taken. But the security guard responded with a hateful comment. The security guard exclaimed that Emily and Michael were to leave the store immediately and that they were not allowed to return unless Michael was “on a leash”. This mentality doesn’t seem very consistent with Whole Food’s core value of “delighting customers”.
Outraged, Emily took to the web and started an online petition at Change.org, one of the worlds largest petition platforms. Emily’s voice was clearly heard. Her cause received an impressive 1,000 signatures. This undeniable movement prompted Whole Foods to formally apologize for the actions of their security guard. Whole Foods also decided to set up a sensitivity training session for the Milwaukee branch to ensure that social issues are handled with respect in the future. The security guard responsible for the “leash” comment quietly resigned from his position shortly after the incident.
Emily Goldman took action against the injustice she and her brother experienced by rallying people to her cause. It would have been nice if Whole Foods felt compelled to apologize for their employee’s comment before 1,000 signatures were collected, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. I would have also liked to see the security guard keep his job. It is important for people to learn from their mistakes and move forward rather than run away from them. However, it is refreshing to see a person make a positive change by simply voicing their concerns.