Canadians are up in arms after Whole Foods banned its employees from wearing poppies in honor of Remembrance Day, the nation’s holiday for fallen soldiers.
The Amazon-owned supermarket chain reportedly told employees that pinning the traditional red flower to their work uniforms — which consist of an apron, a coat or vest, a hat and name badge — was against its recently updated uniform policy.
Employees took to social media, setting off a backlash, but Whole Foods stood firm, defending its “dress code” in a written statement, according to Global News.
“Whole Foods Market honours the men and women who have and continue to bravely serve their country,” a company spokesperson told the Canada-based outlet. “We support Remembrance Day in all of our Canadian stores by observing a moment of silence on November 11th and by donating to the Legion’s Poppy Campaign. With the exception of those items required by law, our dress code policy prohibits any additions to our standard uniform.”
“I was basically told … if they allowed this one particular cause, then it would open up the door so that they would have to allow or consider allowing other causes,” the employee told CBC.
Erin O’Toole, the leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, even weighed in on the controversy on Friday, pointing barbs at Whole Foods on Twitter.
“The sacrifice of Canadians in the past provides the freedom for a US grocery chain to be stupid today,” O’Toole tweeted. “Let’s tell Whole Foods to stop trying to be Woke Foods. The poppy is not a cause, it is a sign of respect.”
Whole Foods, which operates 14 stores in Canada, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The red flowers are worn by Canadians during the week before Remembrance Day, whose traditions date back to World War I.
Other supermarket chains in Canada don’t restrict employees from wearing poppies, according to reports.