Workers Claim Indefinite Closure of Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s Is Linked to Their Support of Black Lives Matter


Trader Joe’s employees are penalized for participating in a Black Lives Matter protest.

A Trader Joe’s store in Seattle, Washington, Store #130, has been temporarily closed and workers believe the unanticipated closure is retaliatory in nature.  On June 11, a band of employees requested paid time off to attend a Black Lives Matter rally.  Store management reluctantly consented and assured the workers that their political activism would go unpunished. Despite granting staff permission to attend the protest, Trader Joe’s corporate office made the executive decision to indefinitely close Store #130 upon learning of its limited staff that day.

The band of employees who were penalized for their political activism were appalled by the sudden store closure and swiftly solicited fellow community members to sign a petition challenging the decision. Within merely 24 hours, the petition garnered over 19,000 signatures. 

Trader Joe’s spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel vehemently denies any retaliatory motives.  We want to believe Kenya’s words, but it is worth noting that while Trader Joe’s has publicly championed the movement, it has failed to tangibly support Black Lives Matter.  Likewise, the band of penalized employees are notorious for being outspoken and mobilizing to secure a living wage, health insurance for all workers, and enhanced safety precautions against COVID-19. Due to their history of political activism, their relationship with store management is tense. 

After witnessing the public outrage Whole Foods weathered after the retaliatory firing of an outspoken worker, rival American grocery chains should recognize that silence is compliance and passivity is a recipe for disaster. You shouldn’t have to be called out before you speak up.

To all the grocery stores that have yet to meaningfully contribute to Black Lives Matter: now is the time to be an ally. Everyone should be willing to lend a hand in the fight for racial equity during this time.