It's almost Pride Weekend here in Seattle. And what better way to gear up for the festivities than with a tale of blatant homosexual discrimination?
Missy Allison, a regular customer at Starbucks, overheard an employee getting berated for having a conversation where apparently his personal life was brought up. This was seemingly offensive to the store's management, because the man is gay and they'd rather not hear about anyone's personal life unless said person is a proper hetero.
Allison, hearing this conversation, did what any red-blooded American would do when confronted with a morally objectionable scene. She blogged about it.
It's a rather long and wordy piece, but here are some highlights (or lowlights, rather).
The whole incident spanned about 15-20 minuets. 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.
Know, I am not going to swear by what the original confrontation was. I only heard bits and pieces, but I know that worker was attacked and humiliated on the middle of your shop floor. I don't care what his offense was, that sort of business should be conducted in a back room. I also know, the "manager" was not willing to listen to him and personally attacked him several times with snide, condescending comments. Telling him, in the subtext of her words that he was "Less than" and his personal belief system was no longer welcome at the shop.
. . . 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 fired employee, Jeffrey Warren, spoke to KIRO 7 News about the incident, saying "They were sick of hearing about my sexuality. I felt I was coerced into abandoning my position. I've been continuously passed up for promotions."
Starbucks in turn released this statement.
"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."
The story has since become an epic PR nightmare for Starbucks, as hundreds of people leave nasty comments on the company's Facebook page.
Warren seems happy for the support, writing:
"All of you who have supported our cause to stand united in the LGBT community have made this possible! I continue expressing my appreciation for her and all of your standing up for our right to be treated respectfully and fairly in our work environments. A promise we hold our employers to daily."
That's all well and good. But he still needs a job. So if anyone has one of those. . .