Starbucks Wouldn't Serve Deaf Patrons: Lawsuit

Customers say NYC police were called on them

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 16, 2013 6:04 AM CDT

(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.

Starbucks is facing a lawsuit over employees' treatment of deaf customers.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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