Starbucks Fires Philly Worker Accused of Mocking Man's Stutter - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Starbucks Fires Philly Worker Accused of Mocking Man's Stutter

'His name on the cup was written as 'SSSAM,' which was disrespectful.'

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    Starbucks Employee Accused of Mocking Customer With Stutter

    Starbucks in back in the center of a controversy after a Philadelphia Starbucks employee was accused of imitating a customer's stutter by printing the name, "Sam" with two extra "S's". The employee is no longer with the company, Starbucks says.

    (Published Thursday, July 5, 2018)

    Starbucks has fired a barista from a University City café after the staffer mocked a customer's stutter to his face and in writing on his coffee cup.

    The coffee giant said Wednesday that the worker is no longer employed following an investigation into the June 27th encounter.

    In the incident, a 28-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate student named Sam stuttered while giving his name during a coffee order and the barista replied: "Okay, S-S-S-Sam," according to the man's friend, Tan Lekwijit.

    Lekwijit said the mockery continued when Sam received his coffee and saw the name the barista wrote on the cup.

    “His name on the cup was written as 'SSSAM,' which was disrespectful,” Lekwijit said.

    Sam confirmed what happened to NBC10, but declined an interview and asked that his last name be withheld.

    The mockery took place at Starbucks' café at 34th and Walnut streets on the Penn campus.

    According to Lekwijit, Sam wrote an email to Starbucks Customer Service after the incident. Lekwijit said Starbucks responded via email, apologizing that he “felt disrespected” for the way they wrote his name. He also said they offered Sam $5.

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

    It wasn't until Lekwijit posted a photo of the coffee cup and a recounting of what happened to Facebook that Starbucks took further action.

    "Our local leadership has reached out to Sam to better understand what took place and the specifics of his experience and apologize directly. We have zero tolerance for discrimination and are addressing this immediately," the company wrote in a Facebook comment.

    A day later, Starbucks again replied to the post saying the employee was fired. The barista has not been identified.

    The controversy unfolded only a few months after Starbucks came under fire when a manager at the Rittenhouse Square location called police on two black men who were waiting for a colleague but did not make a purchase.

    Viral video of the arrest led to national outrage as well as major policy changes for Starbucks. The company closed locations to provide including unconscious bias training to all employees and enacted a new policy that allows anyone to sit in its cafés or use its restrooms — even if they don't purchase anything.