Barista attacked online for refusing to serve woman without face mask gets more than $50,000 in tips

Mass support shown for Starbucks worker who was following California's new coronavirus guidelines

Colin Drury
Saturday 27 June 2020 12:27
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Starbucks barista thanks people who donated to GoFundMe after he refused customer not wearing mask

It was a furious online post apparently designed to shame a barista for simply following coronavirus regulations – but it has, it seems safe to say, somewhat backfired.

Amber Lynn Gilles posted a picture of San Diego Starbucks worker Lenin Gutierrez on Facebook and told followers he had “refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask”.

Face coverings, she added for good measure, “are stupid and so are the people wearing them”.

The result?

Thousands of people pointing out that Californian state law now requires almost everyone to wear masks in public spaces, and a GoFundMe page being set up to tip 24-year-old Gutierrez as a show of support.

By Saturday morning, those tips had amounted to $50,000.

Ms Gilles, meanwhile, had gone to ground after saying she had received thousands of death threats.

In a video recorded after the original post attempting to shame him went viral on Monday, Mr Gutierrez, an aspiring dancer, said of the incident: “I was going to show her the paper showing that we’ve been requiring face masks but we can still help, but before I could say anything she flipped me off and she said, ‘No, I don’t need one’.”

He added: “She started cursing up a storm, she started calling people sheep and she left, and within a few minutes she came back and she asked for my name.”

And thanking people for the tips, he said: "I want to remind everyone to be kind to one another and to love each other."

The requirement to wear face masks came into force across the state on 18 June as part of the continued response to the Covid-19 crisis. Only children under two-years-old and those who have specific medical conditions are exempted.

But in an interview with KNSD-TV, Ms Gilles – a self-declared anti-vaxxer – said: “I was denied and discriminated against. I didn’t harass anyone, I called him out.”

She implied she had a medical condition which would mean she was exempt from the new regulations but declined to say what.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company is adhering to Covid-19 guidelines from both the US Centers for Disease Control and local governments at their stores.

“We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores,” they said. “We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores.”

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