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Patron: I Watched Starbucks Fire An Employee 2 Feet From Me For Being Gay

by David Badash on June 15, 2011

in Bigotry Watch,News

Post image for Patron: I Watched Starbucks Fire An Employee 2 Feet From Me For Being Gay

Long Island, New York mother Missy Alison, who was at a local Starbucks, with her daughter, says she watched three Starbucks employees, including a manager, engage in “one of the most brazen and unapologetic displays of homophobia,” she has ever witnessed, then fire an employee named Jeffrey in the middle of the store, because he is gay.

“I don’t know this man, but I know his name is Jeffrey because the woman (who seemed to be in charge of this circus)  loudly scolded, spoke to in a condescending manner, humiliated, and then let go.  In the middle of your store. Two feet away from my table.   Then when Jeffrey, who was visibly shaken went to the bathroom to collect him self, the women at the table went on a long, ranting homophobic rant that lasted about five minutes. This rant transpired two feet away from my table where I sat with my daughter. A three year old child, with two mothers. I have never, in my entire life seem such a gross and unapologetic display of ignorance and intolerance. The most horrific aspect of it was that it was by someone that your corporation put into a position of power.  I have never, ever in ANY context seen ANYTHING so unprofessional in my entire life.  I was horrified that my daughter was exposed to that.

“The whole incident spanned about 15-20 minuets [sic]. It looked like it was a sit down discussion about something that had happened in the store, an earlier problem.  What that was, I couldn’t be certain. I do know however, the fact that Jeffery’s sexuality was brought into the conversation (and it obviously was for me to know about it) is inappropriate. The woman (Who I will refer to going forward as the “Manager” although she may have been someone from Human Resources) spoke to him in a sharp condescending manner. She told him that they were not interested in his politics or beliefs and his thoughts were down right offensive to his co-workers. They did not want to hear about his personal life. When Jeffrey pointed out that they ALL talked about their personal lives (during the course of the conversation I learned that the manager had a daughter that went to tennis camp and another one of the women had a birthday coming up so the irony and the hypocrisy of that statement was mind blowing.) That his beliefs were not welcome at Starbucks.  She went on, an on and on talking about leadership building workshops where she learned to “Keep it to herself”  (again I will remind you of tennis camp).”

“She was even so condescending to tell him, “It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but ten years from now you will thank me for this…”

“For what? For for letting him go for speaking about his personal life? For learning to put up with bigotry in the work place?”

“The event got more horrific, when he, who had kept his composure through the entire incident, not once raising his voice despite being attacked, got up from the table to go to the bathroom to cry in private.

“Then the three women turned on him like Vultures.

“I’m done. I’m done. Nobody wants to hear it anymore.  I don’t care who he is dating. I don’t want to hear about it.”

“He should not get upset at the things people say to him. He should be used to it. It’s not like he turned gay yesterday.”

“I used to listen to it, now I’m just sick of hearing about it.”

“Nobody does, but it’s over now. You won’t have to hear about it anymore.”

“It went on, and on and on.

“The focus of their discussion then when he left the table, was not about an incident that occurred in the previous days.  It was about how they were intolerant to his lifestyle, nobody wanted to hear about the fact that he was gay, they didn’t want to be exposed to that.  The focus was not about his poor performance as an employee but their intolerance towards him as a person.  I  sat at there at my  table with the impression that,

“This man, this Starbucks employee was losing his job, because he was gay.”

Her wife, Lily, adds this on the following day:

“On the official Starbucks Twitter, this post just appeared “@Starbucks: If you read a blog post about a NY store, we are concerned and are looking into it. We have a zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”  I have received an email from corporate trying to set up a phone call with Missy (which should be taking place soon).”

A Starbucks Executive Vice President responds on the company’s website,

“At Starbucks, we pride ourselves on being a great place to work. We are deeply dedicated to our core values – to embrace diversity and treat each other with respect and dignity. We’re committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for everyone. Moreover, we look for ways in which we can honor and celebrate the diversity of our partners as they, too, represent the communities that are home to our stores.

“We are disheartened by the allegations reported in an East Coast Starbucks store and are taking immediate measures to investigate and take any steps necessary to make this right. The actions reported do not correspond with our values, who we are as a company or the beliefs we try to instill in our partners.

“Starbucks has supported the LGBT community for many years, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We have one of the largest Employer Resource Groups for LGBT employees in the United States helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities in which we live and work. Our benefits program has always offered domestic partner benefits in the United States and Canada, and Starbucks partners actively participate and organize local LGBT events in their communities. We’re also very proud of the 100% score we received on the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign. We will continue to work very closely with this organization and others on topics relevant to the community.

“UPDATE: Many of you have asked to hear specifically what, if any, disciplinary actions are taken as a result of our investigations into this incident. As this is a personnel matter, it is our policy not to provide such details regarding those steps.”

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{ 11 comments }

kwbridge June 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Hi David – I read about this yesterday and was stunned. I'm glad Starbucks has responded so quickly – I would like to read about the outcome if you find out more about this.

JayJonson June 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Please keep us posted about this. They may not be able to respond about what disciplinary actions were taken against the manager, but they are certainly able to respond about whether "Jeffrey" was rehired and/or compensated for his treatment. It would be good if Jeffrey would come forward and file a complaint against the manager and his co-workers.

bouldergirl33 June 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Starbucks, I want updates. I want to know you fired this manager before I buy coffee at your shops again.

And no, I am not even gay or lesbian. I am just a person who believes you have the right to work and be open about your sexuality without being discriminated against. Period.

willie231 October 23, 2011 at 12:10 am

<div id="idc-comment-msg-div-211162334" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(211162334)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthenewcivilrightsmovement.com%2Fpatron-i-watched-starbucks-fire-an-employee-from-me-for-being-gay%2Fnews%2F2011%2F06%2F15%2F22193#IDComment211162334&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20Patron%3A%20I%20Watched%20Starbucks%20Fire%20An%20Employee%202%20Feet%20From%20Me%20For%20Being%20Gay%20%7C%20The%20New%20Civil%20Rights%20Movement&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(211162334)">Close MessageI just have found this and I agree with everyone else. The manager and the employees involved with this incident as well as any employee that was in anyway responsible for this action to be taken against Jeffery should immediately be fired. I disagree with Starbucks as this is an internal issue. It was an internal issue if it remained out of the public eye but the cat is out of the bag and now it's a public issue. The public deserves the right to know how you have handled this situation.

elizapar11 October 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Starbucks will probably just reassign the manager. They talk but in reality, they like many others only care about their profits. They products are overpriced and taste really bad.

somejohn October 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I just love how you keep pointing out that you just stood there and did nothing. OK you were shocked, so you just stood there silently and left that horrible bigot think that the customers thought the same thing?!?!
What kind of example was that to your dauhter? She should keep her mouth shut when sth bad s happening, 3 metres away from her?! I'm sorry but I believe that if you see an "evil" thing being done and you do nothing to stop it you are just as responsible… Not buying your liberalism… Sorry if I seem vey judgemental but it's quite a serious issue and instead of writing about it I feel you should've done sth to stop it right there. And why not?! make a scene! Embarrass that…lady…!

russellsvocation December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

We would still be in surgery trying to remove my foot from this woman's butt.
This was not the time for this guy to be the victim. I would have turned on these women like an enraged animal. Especially after she fired me, with nothing left to lose, I would have unloaded on her with words that she never heard in her sanctimonious life.
And please, spare me the "don't do it, you only sink to her level" crap… sometimes that is the only way that works. Make people like that woman/women realize you are not going to take their crap lying down and going forward is going to get you nothing but a shit storm of attitude.

progaykilling December 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Then good luck getting out of the pool of blood you would be in. You come at me and you are a faggot…I wish the doctors that would operate on your body good luck.

Heyim1also February 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Hide behind your keyboard…you little worm.

BJLincoln December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I hope Jeffery got his job back.

gbar4starbucks February 18, 2014 at 1:17 am

Yes it does happen, I'm a gay male barista that has worked in numerous stores, and I've seen first hand how especially in Licensed (un-corporate) branches of Starbucks where LGBT workers are harassed, bullied, and disrespected, and pushed/fired out by their managers based on their sexuality. I worked in my first store in Detroit MI, and was constantly bullied by straight male baristas', I tried to talk to HR, my district manager at the time but they sat back, and did nothing to help me only firing me by saying that because I was talking about me being gay to a manager, and the manager did not like what he heard (at the time I was picking up hours at a different store) that manager reported to my store manager who later fired me, only to be fired several months later. Licensed stores are the worst because they feel that they don't have to follow by Starbucks' rules, there is no structure, people knew about my past with Starbucks, and how I was treated, and proceed to do the same to me, especially when I was reporting about their poor work ethics. When I close I am the butt of jokes, and gossiped about on a daily basis, I was told by a female manager one time that she felt I deserve to be knocked out because I once talked about meeting guys. When I talk to store managers, or their superiors they did nothing about it but make excuses, switch the blame on me like I deserve what I get for standing up for myself. They nick pick on every little thing I do just to have an excuse to do what they do when they know I am a good worker, and I work hard everytime I'm there. I'm still fighting to get back to working for corporate, because I love what I do, but I feel more needs to be done. I know from experience that there are others like myself who work for Starbucks, and have been dealt a bad hand, and had our professional reputations tarnished because of homophobia, hatred, and bigotry..

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