A Starbucks in New York City is facing a lawsuit after 12 witnesses attested that a company employee laughed hysterically at a deaf customer’s speech.
Other employees involved in the allegedly discriminatory behavior called local police in an attempt to kick out the ten members of the Deaf Chat Coffee group. The group holds monthly meetings, this one held at the Astor Place location in lower Manhattan.
Members of the group were “shocked and frightened” when police responded to the call claiming a disturbance. Police reported that the group was not found participating in any illegal conduct. Members were without a permit, but they weren’t causing any trouble and many had purchased coffee and pastries.
The Deaf Chat Coffee group used to meet at a variety of places, but in recent years had enjoyed meeting at coffee shops, primarily Starbucks.
“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,” Starbucks spokeswoman Jamie Riley told The Associated Press. “Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks is unacceptable.”
Police who responded to the call apologized to the group. According to the lawsuit, “The plaintiffs had suffered humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain and suffering as a result of the Starbucks employee’s actions.”