Disability Law

Suit claims Starbucks employees ridiculed and refused to serve deaf customers

A group of Starbucks customers claim in a federal lawsuit that employees at two of the coffee shop’s New York locations ridiculed deaf patrons and refused to serve them.

The suit claims violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Courthouse News Service reports. One plaintiff, Alan Roth, claims a Starbucks employee laughed at him in August 2012 and told him he sounded funny, according to Courthouse News, the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News. When Roth asked the employee if she had a problem with him being deaf, the employee went around the counter and screamed obscenities at Roth until she was pulled away by other employees, the suit says.

Another plaintiff, Lawrence Bitkower, had organized a monthly “Deaf Chat Coffee” group at Starbucks. In December 2012, the suit alleges, four Starbucks employees told the group they had to leave the area they were sitting in for cleaning. After the group moved, other customers were allowed in the area and no cleaning took place, the suit says. When a member of the group tried to place an order, he was informed that Starbucks does not serve deaf individuals, the suit says.

A Starbucks spokesperson told the Huffington Post and the Daily News that the company is looking into the claims and it does not tolerate discrimination.

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