Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Is Nowhere Sacred?

Now I don’t shop that often at Whole Foods on account of the higher prices (even if there is a better, healthier choice). In fact, I once won a $50 voucher and took my wife there on a very memorable date. How did it go? You remember the Willy Wonka story right?

There is a Whole Foods near a building full of dental specialists where my dentist sends me when even he can’t work his magic, and I often leave there numb, sore, in pain, and fall into the warm embrace of the Whole Food isles.

So you can imagine my shock to discover that a young man, who by all accounts was considered a rising star by his employers in a Philadelphia store, found himself fired…for being a Muslim.

Apparently, Glen Mack Jnr.’s supervisor ‘discovered’ that Glen was spending his  vacation, which had been approved months beforehand, making a pilgrimage to Mecca. His boss tried to withdraw the vacation time, purportedly telling Glen: “You can choose. It’s either your job or your religion,”

Glen took his vacation and when he returned, he found himself harassed, demoted, and finally his position was terminated a couple of months later. His position was demoted to part-time and he lost his benefits, including health care.  When he complained to Human Resources, he was apparently ridiculed and harrased when he went to pray, often besides the dumpsters.

Glen Mack Jnr.

Glen did not mount a multimillion dollar law suit against Whole Foods. Apparently, he just wants his job back and this has won him the support of the effective, grassroots organization Change.org. If you click on the link, you will reach a petition calling for Glen’s reinstatement and the creation of a sensitivity training for management.

I went into the Whole Foods website  They have a page dedicated to the core values and have an impressive section entitled: We Support Team Excellence and Happiness. You can read it yourself, but it does give me hope that Whole Foods, who has unquestionable quality in its products, might just have a bad apple or two in its Philadelphia staff.

When asked why HR ignored his request for help, Glen doesn’t trash the company. He thinks that given Whole Foods’ high values, they just couldn’t conceive that such behavior could be happening in their stores.

If this is the case, Whole Foods management will take action fast and remedy the situation. If not, customers will find excellent alternative venues to buy their food. We like it organic, fresh and tolerant.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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2 thoughts on “Is Nowhere Sacred?

  1. akandrewcom on said:

    Thanks for this post Alon. Whole foods talks a good talk -team members and all, but this is pretty unacceptable to say the least. Hope it gets resolved.

  2. Wow, when I was in a C-management position at a hi-tech company, someone in HR and the employee’s direct manager would be fired for actions like this!
    -Roger.

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