Starbucks Barista Accused of Mocking Customer’s Stutter Is Fired

July 6, 2018, 3:29 PM UTC

Another Philadelphia-area Starbucks is in hot water after a barista allegedly mocked a customer with a stutter.

Tan Lekwijit visited the store on June 27 when he claims his friend Sam, a 28-year-old University of Philadelphia graduate, was ridiculed for his speech impediment, according to NBC Philadelphia. The alleged mockery began after Sam placed his order and the barista allegedly replied by saying, “Okay, S-S-S-Sam,” Lekwijit told the station. The name on the cup was also similarly spelled.

“I am writing this not because I want to get anybody into trouble, but because I want to raise awareness among the employees,” Lekwijit wrote in a Facebook post explaining the incident. “There are many people with speech disorders who are in a worse position than my friend’s and struggle with self-esteem and confidence. Getting this kind of treatment from people, especially service employees, only scars them–and I beg Starbucks to have this in mind.”

The situation escalated after Sam reportedly reached out to Starbucks Customer Service and received an unpersonalized email and a $5 gift card in lieu of a formal apology.

It was only after Lekwijit posted a photo of the coffee cup to Starbuck’s Facebook page that the company decided to take further action “immediately,” he said. The post has since been deleted from Starbucks’ page.

“Clearly, Starbucks missed the point. It was about how you treat people with speech impairments, not how you write names,” he continued.

Starbucks responded to the alleged discrimination in a statement Thursday, terminating the employee and apologizing to the customer.

“There is no tolerance for this type of behavior. We’ve taken immediate corrective action and have apologized to the customer,” a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News. “We want our stores to serve as a welcoming place for everyone who visits and strive to ensure our partners provide a positive experience.”

In May, the coffee giant temporarily closed more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores to conduct racial-bias training after a viral incident in April when Starbucks employees at one of its Philadelphia locations were accused of racial discrimination.