Employee Fired After Fight With Customer Inside Center City Starbucks

Starbucks said they fired the employee after the initial investigation.

NBC Universal, Inc.

An employee and a customer are both speaking out following a fight inside a Center City Starbucks over the weekend.

The incident occurred inside the Starbucks on 15th and Walnut streets Saturday around 1:30 p.m. 

The customer, who did not want to reveal her identity, told NBC10 the ordeal began after the Starbucks employees made the drinks she ordered incorrectly. 

“They were made wrong so I asked him to remake it and he caught an attitude,” she said. “When he remade it he had an attitude about it. Filled my cup halfway with caramel and slammed it on the counter.”

The woman said she then asked to speak with a manager but the employees told her there was no one around. She then said a male employee hit her in the face with a rag. 

“He took his wet rag, smacked me in my face with it and he swung at me,” she said. “So we started fighting. I was shocked for a second. Then he swung at me so I swung back.” 

While the woman said she was merely defending herself after being attacked by the employee, the employee, identified as Robert Freda, claimed it was actually the other way around. 

“I have a black eye,” he told NBC10. “I have contusions here. Marks on my body here. If anybody was left with more damage it was me.” 

Freda denied hitting the woman with the wet rag. 

“I waved a wet rag in her face that I had in my hand,” he said. “Not trying to hit her or anything and she proceeded to jump across the counter swinging at me. And at that point my fight or flight response kicked in.” 

NBC10 reached out to Starbucks. A spokesperson told NBC10 Freda was fired after their initial investigation. 

“It goes without saying, Starbucks is a place where everyone should feel welcome,” the spokesperson wrote. “I can confirm we have separated the partner (employee) after our initial investigation. The type of behavior described in this incident is not indicative of the type of dignity and respect we want our partners and customers to show when in our stores.”

Starbucks also said part of their investigation includes reviewing the video of the incident from inside the store. While they don’t plan on releasing the video, they told NBC10 they stand by their decision to remove Freda. 

Freda told NBC10 he was remorseful about how the situation escalated so quickly but insists he was only trying to protect himself. 

“An actual attack was initiated by her,” he said. 

The customer, meanwhile, plans on filing charges. 

“What he did should not have happened at all,” she said. “You don’t do that at all.” 

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