Whole Foods didn't write anti-gay slur on Austin cake, pastor reveals

Jordan Brown announces his lawsuit against Whole Foods in April 2016. About a month later, the Austin man said he was dropping the suit and he apologized to the store and others (Austin American-Statesman photo, Ricardo B. Brazziell)
Jordan Brown announces his lawsuit against Whole Foods in April 2016. About a month later, the Austin man said he was dropping the suit and he apologized to the store and others (Austin American-Statesman photo, Ricardo B. Brazziell)

An Austin pastor admits he made up his April charge that a Whole Foods employee had added a slur to a cake he ordered.

That revelation by Jordan Brown came about a month after he announced he was suing the Austin-based  grocery chain after finding that a cake he’d purchased at its flagship store had an anti-gay slur written on it.

At the time, the Church of Open Doors pastor said he planned to surprise his congregation members with a cake and as he’d done several times in the past, he went to the Whole Foods on North Lamar Boulevard, approached the bakery counter and picked a blank, pre-frosted cake from the display case.

This time, he asked the bakery associate to write the words "Love Wins" with icing on the cake and waited until the employee handed him a box sealed with the store’s sticker, Brown said.

"I didn’t tell her anything about me being gay," he said.

He said he paid for it, walked out the store and set the cake on the floor of the passenger seat side of his car before leaving. He didn’t look inside the box until he stopped at a stop light on Fifth Street and North Lamar Boulevard and saw the cake had the message: "Love Wins Fag" written on it, according to the lawsuit.

Whole Foods initially responded with a statement saying: "Our team member wrote ‘Love Wins’ at the top of the cake as requested by the guest, and that’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from the store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message ‘Love Wins.’"

The next day, Whole Foods filed a defamation suit against Jordan, also declaring its security footage video from the store visited by Jordan contradicted the man’s claims that the store included the slur on the cake.

On May 16, Jordan announced he was dropping his suit, also apologizing for his claims. "The company did nothing wrong," Brown said in a statement. "I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story."

"I want to apologize to Whole Foods and its team members for questioning the company’s commitment to its values," Brown wrote in his statement. Brown also apologized to his partner, his family, his fellow church members, his attorney and the LGBT community because he said he was "diverting attention from real issues."

As reported by Claudia Grisales of the Austin American-Statesman, Whole Foods responded that it was dropping its suit against Jordan, saying that it was "very pleased that the truth has come to light."

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