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Starbucks barista fired after fight with customer inside Philadelphia store

The customer accused the barista of smacking her in the face with a wet rag.
Starbucks employee fired after fight with customer inside Philadelphia store
A barista pours frothed milk into a drink inside a Starbucks coffee shop.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

An employee and customer reportedly got into a fight inside a Philadelphia Starbucks over the weekend.

The customer, who didn’t want to be identified, told local NBC affiliate WCAU that the employee made her drinks incorrectly and the argument escalated from there.

“They were made wrong so I asked him to remake it and he caught an attitude,” she told WCAU. “When he remade it he had an attitude about it. Filled my cup halfway with caramel and slammed it on the counter.”

She said she asked to speak to a manager but was told no one was around. Then the employee hit her in the face with a rag, she said.

“He took his wet rag, smacked me in my face with it and he swung at me,” she said. “So we started fighting. I was shocked for a second. Then he swung at me so I swung back.”

The employee, identified as Robert Freda, said it was actually the customer who started the fight. He also denied hitting her with a rag.

“I waved a wet rag in her face that I had in my hand,” he said. “Not trying to hit her or anything and she proceeded to jump across the counter swinging at me. And at that point my fight or flight response kicked in.”

He added that he was injured from the fight.

“I have a black eye,” he told the outlet. “I have contusions here. Marks on my body here. If anybody was left with more damage it was me.”

TODAY Food spoke with Jory Mendes, a spokesperson for Starbucks, about the incident. He said the employee had been let go after an internal investigation.

“Starbucks is a place where everyone should feel welcome,” Mendes said. “We’ve separated the partner (employee) after our initial investigation and connected with the customer, apologized, and will be meeting with her in person to make things right. The type of behavior described in this incident is not indicative of the type of dignity and respect we want our partners and customers to show when in our stores.”

Freda told WCAU he felt badly about how things escalated but said he was only protecting himself.

“An actual attack was initiated by her,” he said.

The customer told WCAU she plans to file charges.

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