Starbucks fires worker for mocking customer's stutter

Marco Green
July 9, 2018

An employee at a Philadelphia Starbucks allegedly mocked a customer for his stutter, and spelled out a stuttered version of his name on the drink.

This comes just weeks after the mega coffee chain shut its doors to conduct anti-bias training for all employees.

Sam then wrote in to Starbucks, which replied with a "pretty standardised e-mail" apologising for how the barista spelt his name, and offered him a $5 gift voucher.

Lekwijit (pictured on Facebook) initially posted a complaint to Starbucks' official Facebook page after he learned what happened, but the company allegedly deleted the post.

According to the post, the customer identified only as Sam had stuttered while giving his name after ordering a drink at a Starbucks outlet.

"It was about how you treat people with speech impairments, not how you write names", he wrote. "Getting this kind of treatment from people, especially service employees, only scars them-and I beg Starbucks employees to have this in mind", his friend added.

Starbucks staff undergo racial bias training to undo the damage its reputation suffered following the widely publicised arrest of two black customers.

"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. "This news not only affects the individual who experienced this level of disrespect, but it also discourages countless other people who stutter from feeling empowered and comfortable with how they speak".

Starbucks announced on Twitter Thursday that the employee had been sacked. "I sort of got a generic email, and I didn't feel like I was heard", he said.

Dissatisfied with the response, Lekwijit took to Facebook, where he wrote, "I am writing this not because I want to get anybody into trouble, but because I want to raise awareness among the employees".

'Our local leadership has reached out to Sam to better understand what took place and the specifics of his experience and apologize directly. "We've taken immediate corrective action and have apologized to the customer", a Starbucks spokesperson confirmed in a statement to INSIDER. "Not just my friend, but for other people with speech disorders", Lekwijit told the Philadelphia Inquirer on why he decided to make the post. "We want stores to be a welcoming place to visit".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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