Starbucks fires barista after customer is mocked for stutter

Pedestrians walk outside the Spruce St. Starbucks store, which was closed to conduct employee training on racial bias, on May 29, 2018 in Philadelphia. Copyright Kena Betancur AFP - Getty Images file
By Farnoush Amiri with NBC News U.S. News
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A 28-year-old University of Pennsylvania student was reportedly mocked twice, once upon ordering and again when picking up his drink.


Less than a month after Starbucks shut down 8,000 stores nationwide for a racial sensitivity training, the coffee giant is sipping on controversy again in Philadelphia.

This time at a different City of Brotherly Love store where a barista was fired this week for allegedly mocking a customer with a stutter.

NBC Philadelphia first reported on the June 27 incident where a Starbucks employee mocked, Sam, a 28-year-old University of Philadelphia graduate student two times: once when he was giving his name upon ordering and then again when he picked up his coffee and saw that the barista had written "SSSam" — with three S's — on it.

"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 Thursday. "We want our stores to serve as a welcoming place for everyone who visits and strive to ensure our partners provide a positive experience."

Sam confirmed the details of incident to the NBC affiliate but declined an interview and asked that his last name be withheld from the story.

According to Tan Lekwijit, a friend of Sam's, Sam wrote an email to Starbucks Customer Service when he got home that day and they responded, apologizing that he "felt disrespected" for the way they wrote his name and offered him $5.

"Clearly, Starbucks missed the point. It was about how you treat people with speech impairments, not how you write names," Lekwijit wrote in Facebook post.

Lekwijit also declined NBC News' requests for interview.

It appears that it wasn't until Lekwijit posted a picture of Sam's coffee cup on Facebook that Starbucks decided to take further action with a statement on July 2 saying they were going to address the matter "immediately."

The company replied again the next day to say that the employee was fired.

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