Black Starbucks worker sues company for failing to protect him from customer’s racial slurs

Man claims a customer called him the n-word on three different occasions but the company did nothing despite his complaints

Graig Graziosi
Monday 09 August 2021 23:10
<p>Starbucks sued by worker who claims company did not protect him from racial abuse from a customer</p>

Starbucks sued by worker who claims company did not protect him from racial abuse from a customer

A Black Starbucks worker is suing the company, which he claims did not protect him from a customer hurling racial slurs at him.

Dayshawn Rodriguez claimed in his lawsuit that a customer frequently called him a “n*****” after he tried to remove her from the store's restroom.

According to the court filing, Mr Rodriguez noticed that a customer had been in the bathroom for a very long time, so he knocked on the door to check on the individual. A woman reportedly came out of the bathroom and poked him in the chest while saying “don't rush me n*****”.

After the incident, Mr Rodriguez told his store manager about what had transpired. The store manager said she would alert the district manager, but he claimed that nothing came from his complaint.

According to the filing, the following week Mr Rodriguez told the district manager he did not want to serve the customer when they visited in the future, but the manager allegedly rejected that request. Mr Rodriguez claimed that after the rejection, the district manager told him that he “may be too sensitive to be a shift supervisor and said the N-word is not the worst thing to be called”.

After that, Mr Rodriguez reportedly left his position as a supervisor and continued working as a barista at the store.

As Mr Rodriguez feared, he had future encounters with the customer. At one point the woman visited the store, allegedly threw water on herself, and blamed it on Mr Rodriguez, claiming that the “Black man did it”.

The barista again filed a complaint, but was criticised for including the n-word in his report. The district manager told him not to use curse words while filing his complaints.

While Mr Rodriguez reportedly got a talking to about his report writing, nothing was done about the customer, per the court filing. The woman was allowed to continue visiting the Starbucks.

A third incident allegedly occurred in June, when the woman reportedly said she refused to be “served by this n*****”.

The barista filed another complaint, but the company again did nothing to address the issue.

After the company did nothing for a third time, Mr Rodriguez quit his job. He then reached out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to explain his situation and explore legal recourse against Starbucks.

Mr Rodriguez is seeking restitution in the form of lost wages, monetary damages for emotional distress and embarrassment, and statutory damages. He did not specify an amount he is seeking from the lawsuit.

In an email to Business Insider, Starbucks claimed it investigated the incident and took corrective actions.

“We thoroughly investigated the matter alongside local law enforcement when this was raised in [August] 2020, and have taken appropriate action to ensure the safety of our partners – which includes the formal restriction of the customer from our stores in the area,” a Starbucks spokesperson said.

If the corrective action was taken in August, it would have occurred two months after the third incident Mr Rodriguez reported.

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