A group of deaf people have filed a lawsuit against a New York City Starbucks after a few workers mocked their speech impediments and called the police to try and get them kicked out, Daily Mail reports.
The suit was filed last week in Manhattan federal court on behalf of 12 people. It seeks damages and an order from the court to stop discriminatory behavior as a response to multiple instances of cruel abuse over the past year.
The deaf customers meet at the Astor Place Starbucks in lower Manhattan each month for a gathering called Deaf Chat Coffee.
According to the lawsuit, one employee laughed hysterically at one deaf customer’s speech. The others were so bothered by the deaf group just being there that they called the police.
The lawsuit states that the deaf customers were “shocked and frightened” when police responded to a reported disturbance. The officers were told that a meeting was conducted without a permit and most of the participants weren’t paying customers.
Both of these claims were found to be untrue.
When no evidence of illegal conduct was found, the police apologized to the group and reprimanded the employees for calling them.
Starbucks spokeswoman Jamie Riley said the company is investigating the matter and will punish the employees accordingly.
“Discrimination of any kind at Starbucks in unacceptable,” she said.
“We take these allegations very seriously and believe that they are neither in line with our values nor our track record of engaging the deaf community as partners and as customers.”