Whole Foods Market (WFM) said Wednesday it would countersue an openly gay Texas pastor who has accused the grocer of selling him a cake with a homophobic slur. The company says he altered the cake himself.
Jordan Brown said in a YouTube video posted this week that on April 14, he ordered a cake with the words “Love Wins” in blue icing from a Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, the company’s hometown. The cake was for a congregant of the non-denominational Church of Open Doors where he preaches, and “Love Wins” is a slogan that’s been associated with marriage equality battles of recent years.
But Brown claims that when he left the store, “Love Wins Fag” was written on the cake instead. It appears about 30 seconds into the video below.
“The feeling that I had just resurfaced a bunch of painful memories of things that have happened to me,” said Brown, who filed a suit against the upscale grocer, accusing it of inflicting emotional distress. “I felt humiliation,” he said later in a press conference with his lawyers.
Whole Foods says Brown’s claim is “fraudulent.” The company released footage from its store in Austin that it says proves its workers were not the ones who added the slur, and that the baker in question is a member of the LGBT community. Whole Foods said the top of the cake was visible to Brown at the store through the clear portion of the packaging and that he admits that he was in sole possession of the cake until he posted the video.
“This claim is completely false and directly contradicts Whole Foods Market’s inclusive culture, which celebrates diversity,” the store said in denouncing this episode as a hoax. Whole Foods is seeking $100,000 in damages from Brown, according to several media reports.