Whole Foods Rejects Claim of Gay Slur

     AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Whole Foods said it will countersue a Texas pastor for what it calls a “fraudulent” lawsuit accusing it of selling him a cake with “Love Wins Fag” written on it in icing, rather than the “Love Wins” he ordered.
     Pastor Jordan Brown sued Whole Foods Market on Monday in Travis County Court, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     Whole Foods issued a lengthy statement Tuesday, denying Brown’s allegations.
     Brown, an openly gay African-American man, is the founder and lead pastor of the nondenominational Christian Church of Open Doors in Austin. It welcomes all, including members of the LGBT community, according to the complaint.
     Brown says he ordered a cake from the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin on April 14 and asked that “Love Wins” be written on it in icing. He ordered the cake as a surprise for a member of his congregation.
     He claims a Whole Foods employee wrote a message on it, sealed it in a box and handed it to him. Brown says he “rushed out the door with the cake” and put it on the floor of his car without looking at the message.
     “While stopped at a stop light, Pastor Jordan looked down and saw for the first time that the cake had a terrible anti-gay slur written directly across the middle of it: ‘Love Wins Fag,'” according to the complaint.
     Brown says he complained to Austin Whole Foods store team leader Geoff Nunez, who was apologetic and said he would fire whoever wrote the slur on the cake. Nunez offered him a gift card and replacement cake, and said he would investigate and call back, according to the complaint.
     Brown says he emailed Nunez pictures of the cake inside the box, and a picture of the receipt.
     “Approximately two hours later, Nunez called back and said that Whole Foods had come to the conclusion that the store had not done anything wrong, and that their bakery associate had done nothing wrong,” Brown says.
     He says he “spent the remainder of the day in tears” and was very upset.
     “On information and belief, Whole Foods has not fired the bakery associate who wrote the word ‘fag’ on the cake. … Whole Foods has not fired the manager in charge of the bakery. … Whole Foods has not ordered immediate harassment or tolerance training for bakery employees, so that such an incident will be avoided in the future,” Brown says in the complaint.
     Whole Foods rejects Brown’s story completely. It said in a statement that the alleged perpetrator “is part of the LGBTQ community.”
     “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,” Whole Foods said in a statement Tuesday.
     “Our bakery team member wrote ‘Love Wins’ at the top of the cake, which was visible to Mr. Brown through the clear portion of the packaging. That’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Whole Foods Market has a strict policy that prohibits team members from accepting or designing bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.
     “Mr. Brown admits that he was in sole possession and control of the cake until he posted his video, which showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box.
     “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. This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box, which you can view here .
     “We appreciate the team members and shoppers who recognize that this claim is completely false and directly contradicts Whole Foods Market’s inclusive culture, which celebrates diversity.”
     Neither Whole Foods nor Brown’s attorney, Austin Kaplan, responded to a request for comment Tuesday.

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