Starbucks under fire for 'attack' on gay employee

Wed. June 15, 2011 11:05 AM by News Staff

"I Know Starbucks is Not an Anti-Gay, Homophobic Company (by Policy)…. BUT…" writes Missy Alison

New York City - Starbucks is defending itself after a blogger said she witnessed an "attack" on a gay Starbucks employee in New York by three other employees.

"I'm a gay woman, I'm married, I have a toddler, a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter ... and we're sitting four feet away from a conversation where it's implied that her lifestyle or her family dynamic is less than or that it's something to be ashamed of," Missy Alison wrote on her blog about the incident she witnessed at a Long Island Starbucks.

"The whole incident spanned about 15-20 minuets," Alison wrote. "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."

Her account of the incident has spread quickly on Facebook and Twitter, with hundreds of customers registering their outrage on Starbucks' Facebook page.

"They were sick of hearing about my sexuality, Jeffery Warren, the apparent victim in the incident, told KIRO-TV in Seattle. "I felt I was coerced into abandoning my position. I've been continuously passed up for promotions." Warren says he has received an outpouring of support since the incident came to light.

"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," read a statement from Starbucks. "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."

Starbucks has received a 100% rating in the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Corporate Equality Index for the 4th consecutive year and the Seattle-based company has always offered domestic partner benefits to employees.