(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Whole Foods reverses poppy ban for workers following heavy criticism

Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay tweeted that Whole Foods’ policy is ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Grocery chain Whole Foods Market reversed a policy Friday that forbid employees from wearing poppies — a rule the prime minister described as a “silly mistake.”

The U.S.-based Whole Foods had defended the rule earlier, saying it was part of a blanket ban on anything other than the retailer’s basic uniform. It said later, however, that feedback it received was helpful.

“Our intention was never to single out the poppy or suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day and the heroes who have bravely served their country,” a company spokeswoman said.

“Given the learnings of today, we are welcoming team members to wear the poppy pin in honour of Remembrance Day.”

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said he had spoken to the company’s chief operating officer and welcomed the reversal.

“Employees will now be able to wear their poppies at work,” MacAulay said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Glad to hear they’re changing course.”

Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that MacAulay was actively working on the issue.

“Whole Foods has made a silly mistake that I’m hoping will be corrected very quickly,” Trudeau had said.

The House of Commons also adopted a motion by unanimous consent calling on all Canadian employers to allow their staff to wear poppies during Veterans Week, which began Thursday.

Meanwhile Ontario’s premier vowed to introduce legislation that would allow everyone to wear a poppy while at work in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

Doug Ford had said he found the Whole Foods policy “absolutely disgraceful.”

His office said later Friday that the government still planned to proceed with the legislation.

Whole Foods had said earlier that it updated its dress-code policy last month to specify the ban on anything other than the standard uniform in an effort to clarify the rules for employees.

It also noted that it planned to observe a moment of silence on Remembrance Day and donate to the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign.

Several politicians condemned the policy before the reversal on the poppy issue was announced.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who is a veteran, had said that the past sacrifices of Canadian soldiers “provides the freedom for a U.S. grocery chain to be stupid today.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had said the poppy policy was part of a broader issue at Whole Foods.

“It was wrong when they banned staff expressing support for Black Lives Matter and it’s wrong to ban the poppy,” he said, referencing an ongoing lawsuit in the United States.

A federal lawsuit filed in Boston on July 20 alleges that the supermarket chain disciplined, intimidated and retaliated against workers who wore Black Lives Matter face coverings earlier this year.

According to that lawsuit, store managers cited the company dress code, which prohibits slogans or logos not affiliated with the company, as the reason for prohibiting Black Lives Matter messages.

Other grocery chains took the opportunity Friday to highlight their own policies that embrace poppy-wearing.

“Our store teammates are finding unique ways to keep the spirit of Remembrance Day alive in this unprecedented year,” Sobeys tweeted, along with photos of prominent poppy displays, and a staff member wearing one of the pins.

Loblaws, meanwhile, was more direct.

“We allow and encourage our colleagues across the country to wear poppies. We have supported our veterans through poppy sales for years, and are making a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion,” the company tweeted.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Remembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

Author and environmentalist Jim Cooperman thumbs through a copy of his book, Everything Shuswap. All proceeds from book sales, which was produced in partnership with the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, will be donated to support outdoor learning programs. (File photo)
Shuswap author’s book a hit at Salmon Arm schools

Students learning about the region with author Jim Cooperman’s book, Everything Shuswap

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP investigate suspected arson at Shuswap hunting camp

Suspicious fire took place by Scotch Creek forest service road on Oct. 24

(File photo)
Alberta woman facing assault charge after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Shuswap campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A Shuswap couple reported having fallen victim to a family emergency telephone scam. (File image)
Shuswap couple fall victim to family emergency scam

Person claiming to be couple’s son said he was injured and in jail

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Central Okanagan Public Schools administration office in Kelowna. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed in 5 more Central Okanagan schools

All people who tested positive for the virus are self isolating at home

Penticton Law Courts
Bail hearing for Penticton man charged with sex assault, forcible confinement

Robert Sauve is facing more than 10 criminal charges

Revelstoke RCMP warn of scam after two people targeted in one day. (Black Press file photo)
Revelstoke RCMP warn of scammer pulling at heart strings

Two people in Revelstoke targeted in one day by person posing as a loved one

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

St. James Anglican Church, Armstrong, B.C. (Google Maps).
Prayer at North Okanagan council meetings a violation of religious neutrality: study

New study found 23 municipalities held prayer sessions at inaugural meetings in 2018, in violation of a Supreme Court decision

A worker at Kelowna Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. (File)
Kelowna airport worker tests positive for COVID-19

Individual, who works as a screener, was asked to self-isolate, at which time they tested positive

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read