A Texas pastor has sued Whole Foods, claiming the upscale grocer sold him a cake with a homophobic slur on it.
As MSN reports, Pastor Jordan Brown, who is openly gay and leads a gay-friendly congregation (the Church of Open Doors) in Austin, went to an Austin Whole Foods to order a cake for a congregant. He wanted a simple message written on the cake: “Love Wins.” But, he says, as he was driving away from Whole Foods, he saw that the baker had added a third word to the message: a homophobic slur that won’t be written in this article.
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Brown says that when he first picked up the cake from Whole Foods, he didn’t notice the slur. But as he was driving away, he looked at the cake and saw the anti-gay slur. He then took cell-phone video of his cake and posted it to YouTube.
Warning: This video contains content that may be disturbing to some viewers.
Brown says that he called Whole Foods and spoke to someone who was “extremely apologetic,” who then promised to call him back. Hours later, the pastor did get a call back from Whole Foods, and Brown claims that whoever called him insisted that no one at Whole Foods put the offensive message on the cake and that there is nothing that could be done.
Speaking to KEYE-TV (Austin), Brown’s lawyer, Austin Kaplan, says that after trying unsuccessfully to get remedy from Whole Foods’ corporate headquarters, the pastor had no choice but to file a lawsuit.
“We had no choice but to do this because Whole Foods did not respond when we alerted them about the situation. Pastor Brown never asked for this to happen. He continues to be overwhelmed by the feelings of pain, anguish, and humiliation because of this incident. He frequently shopped at Whole Foods, which makes this all the more shocking and disappointing. What really concerns him is knowing that unless some action is taken, this kind of thing could happen again, and that someone else might have to go through a similarly excruciating experience.”
Pastor Brown’s suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for emotional distress. He also wants whoever wrote the offensive message to be disciplined.
Whole Foods, for its part, insists that the offensive message was not written at the store. In a statement via KGW (Portland), the company says that the cake left the store without any homophobic slurs.
“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 at the store. Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from the store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message ‘Love Wins.'”
Kaplan insists that his client could not have altered the cake on his own: he points out that the cake box appeared to have been sealed when the pastor filmed it, and he points out that the handwriting in both the words “Love Wins” and the homophobic slur are the same.
Whether or not an employee at Whole Foods wrote the homophobic slur on the cake, or it was altered after it left the store, and whether or not Pastor Brown deserves compensation for his troubles will likely be decided by a jury.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]