A Starbucks barista has been suspended after 'humiliating' a man with a stutter by allegedly writing his name as ‘RRR…ichard’ – to mock his speech impediment.
Richard Procter says he was handed the cup in a Starbucks in Kent, England, by the callous barista earlier this month.
The employee supposedly scribbled Richard’s name round the lip of the cup with extra letters and an ellipsis to indicate where he struggled to say his name.
Richard, who runs an IT company in Kent, said: “The treatment I received from one of [Starbucks'] staff this morning was extremely offensive and humiliating. Would this be acceptable to a person with more obvious disabilities? I highly doubt it.
“Yes I have a speech impediment, and have been subjected to many jokes over the years, of which most I can handle, however there are many people that struggle to cope in public and this could be extremely upsetting for them," he went on.
“This is not unique but for some reason some of society think it’s acceptable behaviour. The only difference in this instance is that I was handed the proof instead of having to listen to the comment.”
Chief executive of The British Stammering Association (BSA) Norbert Lieckfeldt said: “This is just another example of the ridicule and thoughtlessness that people who stammer face every day and which makes living your life with a stammer so hard.
“We know that stammering is a physical, neurological disability, covered by the Equality Act – one is left wondering what kind of service others, for example people with cerebral palsy, can expect from Starbucks?
“BSA is working hard to educate service providers, employers and others to ensure this kind of discrimination becomes a thing of the past.”
Deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK Sue Bott CBE said: “I’m shocked to see this photo. This treatment is clearly in breach of the Equality Act 2010 as it is direct discrimination.
“If the individual concerned wishes to pursue a legal case we would be happy to put them in contact with a suitable lawyer.”
A Starbucks spokesman said: “We were disappointed to hear of this customer’s experience and have been in touch directly to apologise.
“The actions of the partner involved were unacceptable and they have been suspended pending further disciplinary action.
“We aim to provide a warm and welcoming environment for all of our customers, and plan to provide additional awareness training for our store partners in future.”