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.”
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.