By Henry Rosoff for WITI in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE – Whole Foods is apologizing to a Wisconsin man after telling his family he was not allowed back unless he was on a leash.
The family said 26-year-old Michael Goldman was confronted in a Milwaukee Whole Foods for eating food without paying.
Michael has autism which makes communication difficult for him.
His sister, Emily, stepped to explain the situation, apologize and offer to pay for the food.
Emily said a guard told them her brother needed to leave the store and not come back unless he was on a leash.
She said she was so appalled she started an online petition demanding sensitivity training for their employees and Whole Foods took notice.
A company spokeswoman said using the word “leash” was inexcusable.
However, she also said Michael had eaten from the hot food bar before and the store had always been understanding.
She said the language used by the security guard was closer to: “you don’t have to put him on a leash, but you have to watch him.”
In a formal statement the spokeswoman wrote in part:
“We apologize and regret that one of our contracted security guards made insensitive comments to a Whole Foods Market shopper who was disabled. We are conducting special training this week for all team members at Whole Foods Market Milwaukee, even though none of our team members were involved.”