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Starbucks fires barista for mocking a customer's stutter

The Starbucks worker wrote the customer's name on his drink order as "SSSam."
by Eun Kyung Kim / / Source: TODAY

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Barely a month after Starbucks shut down thousands of its stores to provide anti-bias training to employees, the company has come under fire for its treatment of a customer who was mocked for his stutter.

It happened after a Philadelphia graduate student went to pick up his drink and noticed the barista who took his order had written his name on his drink cup as “SSSam."

That customer described the incident to a friend, who took to Facebook to share details about what happened.

“My friend Sam who is a stutterer stuttered on his name when ordering a coffee at Starbucks. The barista said, ‘Okay, S-s-s-sam.’ When he received his coffee, he was shocked to see that his name on the cup was written as ‘SSSAM’, which was disrespectful,” Tan Lekwijit wrote in the post, which included a photo of the labeled cup.

Sam contacted Starbucks to complain but was simply offered a $5 credit, Lekwijit said.

“Clearly, Starbucks missed the point,” he wrote.

The incident took place in Philadelphia, the same city where a different Starbucks location came under fire for the way two black men were treated while waiting for a business associate.

Sam, a 28-year-old University of Philadelphia graduate student, confirmed details of what happened to an NBC affiliate but declined to be interviewed. He also asked that his last name be withheld from the story.

Starbucks has since fired the employee, the company told NBC News.

"There is no tolerance for this type of behavior. We’ve taken immediate corrective action and have apologized to the customer," according to a Starbucks spokesperson. "We want our stores to serve as a welcoming place for everyone who visits and strive to ensure our partners provide a positive experience."

The new controversy comes after Starbucks closed more than 8,000 of its stores across the country on May 29 for an afternoon of racial sensitivity training for nearly 175,000 employees.

The session was spurred by an April incident when a manager at a Philadelphia location asked police officers to remove two black men from the store because they wanted to use the restroom but had not ordered a drink.

In addition to the anti-bias training, the incident also prompted Starbucks to change its policies. People are now allowed to use bathroom stores, or just sit inside its stores, even if they aren't making a purchase.

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