According to a suit filed in federal court, workers at a New York City Starbucks openly mocked deaf patrons—and their rude behavior didn’t stop there. The employees then called 911 to demand that the police remove the deaf customers from the store.
The patrons make up what they call the Deaf Chat Coffee Group. Until the March 7 incident, they met regularly at the Astor Place Starbucks in lower Manhattan.
That day, as their meeting began, one patron attempted to order coffee. The Starbucks employee taking the order laughed hysterically at the person’s speech. Other employees objected to the group meeting, claiming the participants needed a permit. Then they called the police.
When officers arrived, they quickly determined that the deaf group had done nothing illegal. The police apologized—and then reprimanded the employees for calling the police.
According to the lawsuit, the deaf patrons were “shocked and frightened” by the police officers’ arrival. The suit says they suffered “humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain and suffering” due to employees' actions. The deaf patrons’ suit seeks unspecified damages.
A Starbucks corporate spokesperson stated, “Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks in unacceptable” and promised to make changes if the allegations turn out to be true.
Note: With almost no way for Starbucks to defend the employees’ actions, look for a quick settlement of this case.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- How should we respond when one of our customers acts strangely?
- What can we tell co-workers about a new employee's sex change and transgender status?
- Be ready to intervene if supervisor who shows bias needs an attitude adjustment
- You've got mail—and you might have a lawsuit if your e-mails are too casual