Starbucks Wouldn't Serve Deaf Patrons: Lawsuit
Customers say NYC police were called on them
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 16, 2013 6:04 AM CDT
Starbucks is facing a lawsuit over employees' treatment of deaf customers.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Starbucks workers at multiple New York City locations ridiculed and refused service to deaf customers—and the company did little to rectify the situation, a lawsuit claims. Hours before one shop was due to close, a group of deaf patrons who met there regularly were told they had to move to a different section; the area was due to be cleaned, employees said, per the suit. But when the customers complied, "the Starbucks employees proceeded to allow non-deaf customers into that area and did not clean the area," the suit says, via Courthouse News Service.

Several of the deaf customers were also refused service, they say. At the same location several months later, employees allegedly called police, citing a disturbance by the customers—but the cops saw no indication that the claim was true. When the patrons wrote to company execs about the incident, they were offered a gift card, but they say the company didn't investigate. According to the complaint, another deaf customer was laughed at and told "he sounded funny." The customer asked to speak to the manager, prompting the employee to curse at him before multiple workers told him to leave. The plaintiffs want an injunction as well as damages; Starbucks now says it is investigating, the AP notes.

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Showing 3 of 36 comments
Arnelle Reid
Apr 13, 2015 9:22 AM CDT
I have a deaf brother and hearing this is so disgusting
Jul 16, 2013 6:32 PM CDT
Yeah. Um, don't piss deaf people off. Bad idea lol. They don't take crap from no one.
Jul 16, 2013 11:37 AM CDT
And it's not just deaf persons being ridiculed by "normal" food service workers. A few years ago,my co-worker in a school cafeteria, where the student body was highly made up of international students, ridiculed a Japanese girl she was serving, who mispronounced "plate" as she had trouble with the "L" sound. I could easily understand what she wanted, but my racist co-worker was just being mean, making the girl repeat it four or five times while laughing and asking if the girl wanted "bread". It only stopped when I intervened and gave the girl a plate for her sandwich. Starbucks local managers need to monitor and discipline their employees for biased behavior. I encountered a particularly surly barrista at my local Starbucks three times before I e-mailed comments to the corporate office, and the next time I went, up to the present, the woman at least *acts* pleasant to everyone. Kudos to Starbucks management in my area for excellent response!