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Starbucks Sees No Bias in 'ISIS' Cup for Muslim Man

Drink order was for Niquel Johnson, aka Aziz
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2019 6:41 AM CDT
Updated Sep 7, 2019 7:00 AM CDT
A Starbucks barista moves a finished coffee drink to the counter as she works in Seattle on March 5, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – A man in Islamic dress believes he faced discrimination at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, where an employee at another location last year called police on two black men, prompting nationwide racial bias training. Niquel Johnson gave his Islamic name, "Aziz" (ah-zeez), to a Starbucks barista on Aug. 25 but never heard it called out as the names of the three drinks he ordered were read instead. Later, however, Johnson realized the name printed on his cup was "ISIS," the acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group, per NBC News. "I was shocked and angry. I felt it was discrimination," Johnson tells the Washington Post. The regular visitor to the Starbucks on Germantown Avenue sent an email complaint including his phone number, but says the matter was exacerbated by Starbucks' muted response.

A rep says "we don't believe this was a case of discrimination or profiling" as the barista had "mistakenly spelled [the name] incorrectly." Johnson adds Starbucks only offered an apology on Thursday. And in the phone call, a district manager in Philadelphia, Brian Dragone, claimed the company had previously resolved the issue with Johnson's niece Alora—a person Johnson says doesn't exist. "I have no explanation for that. We're going to have to figure that out on our end who that was who we spoke to," Dragone says in a recording of the call, per the Post. "I just think your colleague is making this story up," Johnson replies. "This can't be resolved by a simple apology at this point." He's now considering legal action. (A Latino man and a person with a stutter have described similar abuse at Starbucks.)

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