Starbucks Sued For Humiliating And Discriminating Against Deaf Customers

Starbucks sued for discrimination against deaf people

Because we all needed yet another reason to hate Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee chain is being sued for allegedly discriminating against deaf customers in Manhattan. According to the twelve plaintiffs, staff members mocked and frightened them at a Starbucks store at Astor Place, even calling the police on a meeting of a group for those who are hearing impaired.

The lawsuit says one worker “laughed hysterically” at the voice of a deaf customer (because apparently Joy from My Name Is Earl works at Starbucks). Additionally, employees called the police on a meeting of Deaf Chat Coffee, a group that organizes social coffee events for members the deaf community. They apparently objected to the small gathering being held without a permit, so they had the police arrive to disperse it. When law enforcement came to check in on the “disturbance,” the customers were ”shocked and frightened.” Fortunately, cops apologized to the group and reprimanded employees when they realized there was no illegal conduct happening.

As a result of these instances, the plaintiffs are citing “humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain and suffering” as the basis of their lawsuit. Starbucks spokeswoman Jamie Riley says the company is investigating these claims:

“Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks in unacceptable. We take these allegations very seriously and believe that they are neither in line with our values nor our track record of engaging the deaf community as partners and as customers.”

I realize this isn’t our typical genre of conversation as we are, at heart, a feminist fashion, beauty and pop culture site, but the treatment of those with disabilities is a hugely important issue. Actually, no: the treatment of human beings is a hugely important issue. It should be for everyone, really. Insulting or mocking somebody for how they experience life, how they speak or look or walk (hi!), is not only completely ridiculous — seriously, how does criticizing somebody for something that is out of their control make any type of sense? — it also tells the world that you are a complete asshole. Don’t be a complete asshole, please.

Photo: ralph and jenny / Flickr

Share This Post:
    • carrie

      horrible! What the hell is wrong with people?

    • Scarlett

      I cant believe this still goes on in this day and age!!!! Disgusting

    • Tania

      While this behaviour is abhorrent, you can’t really blame Starbucks as a whole. Individual workplaces often foster their own cultures, and it looks like the one there fostered a culture of assholes, which can be more blamed on whoever did the hiring. Presumably a manager who was also an asshole who chose other assholes to work with him/her.

      That said, I get my coffee from Tim Hortons or brew it at home, so blaming Starbucks won’t bother me at all.

    • Alyssa

      I’m glad you guys posted this even though you are a “feminist/fashion/pop-culture website”. I agree with you that the treatment of human beings is an important issue. A lot of people seen to be oblivious to the fact that people with disabilities are discriminated against every day, or seem to think that these issues are less important. It never ceases to amaze me how apathetic people can be to another person’s situation simply because it doesn’t affect them.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        To me, apathy is the absolute worst quality a person can possess. If you don’t care about awful things happening to people, then you are giving your approval by proxy. Thank you for your comment, I’m so glad you feel the same anti-apathetic way :)

      • ayla

        I think you guys may be considering the wrong term “apathy”.
        I am an apathetic person, it is not one of my worst qualities, infact a lot f people love it. I also don’t rake time to ridicule people. Writing this post (not something i do often at all once or twice a year in total on the internet is probably the least apathetic thing i’ve done all week

        I believe you are mistaking apathy with asshole.

        an apathetic person wouldn’t care enough to make fun of or call the police etc on deaf people, or any group unless it was deadly (in which case apathy is wrong word and suicidal is right word)

      • Alyssa

        I wasn’t really talking about the Starbucks employees when I said apathetic. I was referring to people, who while they voice their own issues and concerns, do not care for or are indifferent to the suffering of others because it does not affect them. For instance, I have a few friends who self identify as feminists, but a few days ago when I was talking to these two ladies about the issues people with any type of disability or handicap face, they were pretty indifferent about the topic because they do not have/ know someone with a disability (that was their explanation anyways). When Samantha identified this website as mainly a feminist blog but stated that the treatment of human beings should be an important issue for everyone, I was reminded of my two friends and I expressed my frustration in my first post.

        In a way however, you could say that the Starbucks employees felt indifference toward their handicapped customers while also deciding it was okay to bully them in public. So you could say the Starbucks employees were being apathetic assholes which is different from just being apathetic.

      • qivucuzusywa

        мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

        That said, I get my coffee from Tim Hortons or brew it at home, so blaming Starbucks won’t bother me at all.