whole foods poppies

Whole Foods reverses employee poppy ban following backlash

Friday has been a dramatic day for Whole Foods, to say the least, starting from early this morning when it emerged that the company was prohibiting its employees from wearing poppies to mark Remembrance Day this year.

The backlash has been swift and fierce, with Premier Doug Ford speaking out against what he deemed the "disgraceful" new amendments to the company's staff dress code. Canadian grocery chains such as Loblaws and Sobey's also jumped in to show just how much they support veterans and encourage poppy wearing in their stores.

Toronto mayor John Tory is among the prominent figures who have spoken out to say that no one should be banned from wearing a poppy in any setting or circumstance, and that the American brand should "rethink its unreasonable ban" because "this is Canada."

The controversy is so major that the Canadian House of Commons actually passed a unanimous motion condemning Whole Foods' move.

Now, after so much backlash, the Amazon subsidiary has decided to go back on the uniform rules that it only just rolled out.

"Our new unified dress code policy is intended to create consistency and ensure operational safety across all of our stores. Our intention was never to single out the poppy or suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day," the company said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

"We appreciate the thoughful feedback we have received from our customers. Given the learnings of today, we are welcoming Team Members to wear the poppy pin."

The new guidelines for workers were quite shockingly stringent, outlawing all apparel and accessories with a "visible symbol, flag, slogan, message, logo or advertising."

All buttons, pins, lanyards and similar items were likewise banned, save for company-issued nametags, as were septum piercings and any headwear aside from those that are part of the standard uniform or that are worn for "religious or other reasons related to a ground protected by human rights legislation."

As a result of the whole debacle, social media has been abuzz with people vowing to boycott Whole Foods, with some saying they had even planned to picket its Toronto locations if the restriction was not lifted.

Lead photo by

Marco Verch

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