Austin-based Whole Foods Market said it is taking legal action against an Austin man who claims he purchased a cake from the retailer that included a slur against gay people.
Whole Foods also released its security footage video from its North Lamar Boulevard flagship store that it says contradicts the man’s claims.
Whole Foods on Tuesday said it has investigated and said the man, Jordan Brown, made fraudulent claims and that the company would take legal action.
“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,” the company said in the statement.
The retailer said Monday in response to Brown’s claims that their bakery team member wrote “Love Wins” at the top of the cake. This, the retailer recounted on Tuesday, 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,” the company said. “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.”
The retailer went on to say Brown admitted 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 their 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,” Whole Foods said. “This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box, which you can view here.”
The company said it continues to stand behind its team member.
“We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and 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,” the company said.
More than a half a dozen calls and emails to both Brown and his attorney Austin Kaplan seeking comment were not immediately returned Tuesday .
The two, along with several others, held a news conference at the attorney’s office at 98 San Jacinto Boulevard on Monday. At the event, the group shared pictures of a cake inside a box showing a UPC label on the bottom of the box.
Brown, who was emotional at Monday’s news conference, said he went to the Whole Foods flagship store and asked the bakery associate to write “Love Wins” on the cake.
He said he paid for the cake but didn’t look inside the box until he was at a stop light later and later contacted a store associate but was told they did nothing wrong.
Brown said he is openly gay and said he was offended and humiliated.
Kaplan said a lawsuit was filed at Travis County District court on the matter Monday.
In the lawsuit, Brown said he was seeking damages and monetary relief for mental anguish, court costs and other expenses.
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