She’s bringing the beef to Whole Foods.
Long-time shopper and first-time plaintiff Tessa Lena is suing the organic food giant’s Houston Street outpost, and the security firm that patrols its aisles, after an overzealous guard allegedly accused her of theft and popped her in the chest.
Lena, a loyal customer at the East Village supermarket for five years, is seeking $10 million in damages from Whole Foods, Elite Security Personnel and the unidentified assailant.
She said she first encountered the security guard when the woman accused her of shoplifting a bottle of juice in April 2017.
“She tackled me without getting me on the ground,” said Lena, an artist and writer who lives in the East Village. “She said, ‘Give me your bag.’ I said, ‘Yeah, right.’”
Lena claims in her lawsuit that because the woman didn’t identify herself as a guard and wasn’t wearing any clothes identifying her as one, she had no idea the woman worked for the store.
According to the suit, the woman was “wearing a grungy t-shirt and had the overall appearance not of a security personnel, but of an agitated and disheveled ‘regular person.’”
Lena says she paid for everything she left the store with, but that the woman followed her out and at first implied Lena had gone for the five-finger discount.
A manager intervened after the guard grabbed her and, after about a half hour of hashing everything out — Lena said the drink in question was purchased at another store — she was allowed to leave.
The saga didn’t end there, though.
After avoiding the store for a few months, Lena said she ventured back to Whole Foods. And in August, she saw the security guard there for a second time.
“I came up to her. I wanted to get her name, and I obviously wanted an apology,” Lena said. “I told her. ‘Look, remember you assaulted me? You owe me an apology for that.’”
The situation quickly grew heated.
“She was escalating. She was telling me to leave the store, to get out,” Lena recalled. “She was being so rude, so I started filming.”
Once outside, fists flew, and a manager intervened again, admonishing the guard, she said.One cashier even offered Lena a shoulder to cry on, but she said that while she continues to shop there, she’s curtailed her visits considerably.
“I started to go to Trader Joe’s,” she said. “One, it’s better on my budget. Two, nobody punched me there.”