Deaf customers mocked at New York Starbucks, lawsuit alleges
Some Starbucks workers in New York were so rude to deaf customers they mocked them and called the police to try to get them kicked out, a lawsuit says.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order from the court to stop discriminatory behaviour.
The suit, filed in federal court last week on behalf of 12 people, says one employee laughed hysterically at a plaintiff's speech while others objected to a monthly meeting of a group of deaf people and called police.
Starbucks spokeswoman Jamie Riley said the company, which refers to its employees as partners, is investigating.
"Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks in unacceptable," Riley said. "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."
The suit said police were called to a Starbucks store at Astor Place, in lower Manhattan, on March 7 after more than 10 people, some of whom bought coffee and pastries, gathered for the monthly meeting.
According to the lawsuit, people at the meeting were "shocked and frightened" when police responded to a report of a disturbance at a meeting being conducted without a permit and an allegation that most of the deaf people at the store were not paying customers.
The officers found that nothing illegal had happened and apologised to the plaintiffs before reprimanding Starbucks employees for calling them, the lawsuit said. The plaintiffs had suffered humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain and suffering, it said.