A chain of New York City-area butcher shops was forced to temporarily close last month after two-thirds of its staff quit due to the removal of Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs from storefronts.
According to Forbes, the "first sign of trouble" for Brooklyn-based Fleishers Craft Butchery came on July 22. That was the day Rob Rosania, a leading investor in the business, received a text from a friend claiming he was offended by signs showcasing support for the Black Lives Matter movement on open display at the chain's Connecticut storefront.
In response to the complaint, Rosania reportedly called up the business's new CEO, John Adams, and "ordered" that he remove the signs. Adams complied, traveling first up to Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut, to remove the signage before heading back down to the chain's two New York City locations to do the same. Posters supporting LGBTQ Pride were also removed from storefronts in addition to the BLM signs.
The move apparently didn't go over well with roughly two-thirds of the company's 40-member staff, half of which identify as "BIPOC, nonbinary, or queer," Forbes reported. Following the removal of the signs, some three dozen staffers abruptly quit, forcing the company to shutter all of its locations.
To make matters worse, the mass staff exodus came at a time in which many businesses are short on workers and continuing to struggle to fill positions. Millions of workers have been content to turn down work and instead collect generous pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
In a panic, Adams reportedly reversed course and put the signs back up the very next day and even messaged staff proof. But it was too late; the damage had been done.
One employee, 32-year-old Ajani Thompson, told Forbes that Adams was supposed to be an advocate for workers and a buffer from Rosania, who had become more involved in business operations of late. But he "failed." Now, some workers don't even feel "safe" at work.
"I told him he failed," Thompson said. "You were trying to get our trust, and I don't feel comfortable here. I don't feel safe coming into work because you didn't do that."
Thompson added that he wanted to be treated as an "equal" by the company, presumably to Rosania, despite the fact that Rosania has "ponied up some $17 million" to the business since joining as an investor in 2015.
"Think of me as an equal and none of this needed to happen," he said. "It's messed up to think of someone as less-than and then want them to provide for you."
Fleishers was founded in 2004 by husband and wife Joshua and Jessica Applestone, Forbes reported. The couple was described by the New York Times as "rock star butchers" in a 2009 article.
The company is expected to be closed at least until the end of August as it grapples with the staff shortage, according to signs posted on storefronts.