Deaf Customers Sue Starbucks, Claim Discrimination

Twelve deaf Starbucks customers in New York City have filed a lawsuit against the Seattle-based coffee company, claiming discrimination. Starbucks employees allegedly mocked the customers multiple times over the course of several years, and once called the police on a monthly meeting of deaf people.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed last week in federal court, one Starbucks employees at a Manhattan location laughed hysterically at the way a deaf customer spoke. And, on March 7, several employees at the Astor Place Starbucks allegedly called police on Deaf Chat Coffee, a monthly meeting of 10 deaf people at the store.

Members of the group were “shocked and frightened” when police arrived at the store in response to the call, which the employees reportedly made because the meeting was conducted without a permit, whatever that means (a special Starbucks meting permit?).

NYPD officers called to the store found the complaint as ridiculous as the group did and apologized for intruding. The cops also admonished the Starbucks employees, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the plaintiffs suffered humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain as a result of the Starbucks employees' actions.

Jamie Riley, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said the company was investigating the claim.

"Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks in unacceptable," she said. "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."

[Image via AP]

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