Starbucks fires Philadelphia employee accused of mocking stuttering customer

Irving Hamilton
July 9, 2018

This time at a different City of Brotherly Love store where a barista was sacked this week for allegedly mocking a customer with a stutter.

The coffee chain also recently announced they were changing their bathroom policy in response to the incident to reflect a viewpoint that every person who walks into their store is considered a customer, even if they haven't purchased anything.

Sam's friend, Tan Lekwijit, initially posted a complaint to Starbucks' official Facebook page after he learned what happened, but the company allegedly deleted the post.

In addition, when Sam received his coffee, Lekwijit said he and his friend were shocked to see the name on the cup was written "SSSAM".

After the alleged incident, Sam emailed Starbucks customer service, who replied with an apology for the way they wrote his name and an offer of $5, according to Lekwijit. Lekwijit included with his post a picture of the drink, which shows the misspelled name on the label. "There are many people with speech disorders who are in a worse position than my friend's and struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence", he wrote on July 1. "It was about how you treat people with speech impairments, not how you write names".

Starbucks later commented on Lekwijit's post and said it was investigating.

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'Getting this kind of treatment from people, especially service employees, only scars them-and I beg Starbucks employees to have this in mind'.

"Teasing a person about stuttering, no matter the environment, is wrong and reinforces common misconceptions about people [who] stutter", said NSA Chair Gerald Maguire, MD.

On May 29, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 USA stores to train 175,000 employees against racial bias, following outrage sparked by the April 12 arrest of two black men in a different Philadelphia branch.

Lekwijit also declined NBC News' requests for interview.

The American coffeehouse later added, "The partner (employee) is no longer with Starbucks". "I sort of got a generic email, and I didn't feel like I was heard", he said. "Not just my friend, but for other people with speech disorders", Lekwijit told the Philadelphia Inquirer on why he decided to make the post.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson said the company has apologized and wants their stores "to serve as a welcoming place" for all of their customers. "We have zero tolerance for discrimination", Starbucks wrote.

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