Starbucks employee sparks outrage after writing ISIS on a cup when a customer ordered a coffee
Starbucks baristas have long been notorious for mangling customers’ names on orders, but last week the global coffee chain landed in hot water after a Philadelphia man claimed that his Muslim name, ‘Aziz,’ was misspelled as ‘ISIS.’
Niquel Johnson, 40, who also goes by the name Abdul Aziz and usually wears a traditional Muslim tunic called thobe, went to a Starbucks location with a friend on the evening of August 35 to pick up three drinks.
Johnson’s full Muslim name is translated from Arabic as ‘servant of the almighty,’ but he gave his name to the barista as ‘Aziz,’ as he says he has done countless times at the Starbucks on Germantown Avenue.
He paid for the drinks and left, and it was not until 20 minutes later that his friend pointed out to Johnson that the name on the printout attached to all three beverages read ‘ISIS’ in all caps.
Written as an acronym, ‘ISIS’ stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is one the monikers used by a violent jihadist militant group that has been sowing terror in the Middle East for years.
‘I was shocked at first, and then angry because I felt as though we were discriminated against,’ Johnson told NBC News.
As news of the incident has gone viral on social media, Starbucks released a statement saying that the company had looked into the matter and concluded that the barista in question simply made a mistake when spelling the customer’s name.
The coffee chain also claimed that a Starbucks representative had reached out to Johnson and apologized for ‘this regrettable mistake.’
“After investigating, we don’t believe this was a case of discrimination or profiling,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges stated.
But in an interview with The Washington Post, Johnson clarified that before he was finally offered an apology by a Starbucks representative, he was told that someone from the company had already spoken to his niece named ‘Alora’ about the incident and effectively put it to rest.
It so happens that Johnson says he has no niece by that name, and that his nieces are all too young to be speaking on his behalf anyway.
Starbucks representative Brian Dragone called Johnson on August 29 and admitted that he has no explanation for what happened with the mix-up. He vowed to get to the bottom of this and apologized.
But Johnson said on the call, which was recorded and later shared with The Post, that it was too little, too late.
“No, this can’t be resolved by a simple apology at this point. I feel as though I was discriminated against, and there’s no apology that can simply be an apology at this point,” Johnson tells him. “I just think your colleague is making this story up.”
Borges later told the paper that the confusion over the fake niece was to blame for the delay in Starbucks’ response to Johnson’s complaint.
‘We thought the loop was closed,’ he said.
The incident comes a year after two black men sitting at another Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything were led away in handcuffs and arrested cafe employees called the police on them for trespassing.
The arrests caused an uproar around the country and prompted Starbucks to shut down 8,000 of its 28,000 locations one afternoon in May 2018 to conduct unconscious bias training.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called what happened ‘reprehensible outcome’ and said his company ‘stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.’
Meanwhile, Johnson says he is considering pursuing legal action against Starbucks.
‘I feel like they’re not taking it seriously as it is,’ he said. ‘You think they would have their facts in order.’
Johnson, formerly a loyal Starbucks customer, also said that he will not be patronizing the coffee chain going forward.
Source: Daily Mail