A group of 16 deaf Starbucks customers filed a lawsuit against the company after employees at a Lower Manhattan, N.Y., location refused them service, mocked them and tried to throw them out of the building.
The customers were trying to hold a monthly meeting when the staff called police, saying that the group was disturbing other customers and that they had not obtained permission for the meeting. The staff also complained that no one had purchased a drink, though several were mocked when they tried to order one.
When Alen Roth, one of the offended patrons, asked the employee taking his order if she had a problem with him being deaf, she began yelling obscenities at him and had to be pulled back by other employees.
Once police arrived, they found nothing wrong the customers’ behavior and chastised the Starbucks employees for wasting police time.
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A representative for Starbucks said the company takes discrimination seriously, adding that the employees were neither “in line with our values nor our track record of engaging” deaf customers.
The group’s attorney, Eric Baum, suggested that Starbucks create a training program to better serve deaf customers, which should include a sensitivity training.
The group is seeking retribution for “humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain.”