Starbucks Brewed in Another Scandal: Discrimination Against the Elderly

Former Starbucks employees are calling out popular coffee chain, Starbucks, for another problem associated with bias and prejudice: discrimination against the elderly. This arrives on the heels of the controversy surrounding the arrest of two black men in April.

Since the unfair arrest of the two men waiting for a business meeting, the stores have undergone racial bias training to prevent discrimination and racism from occurring in the workplace. Amidst claims that this training isn’t enough, Starbucks is being called out for discrimination against its elderly workforce as well.

Anonymous employee, Andrea, has worked for the coffee chain for over 15 years. When her multiple attempts to move within the company to accommodate her health conditions were denied, she began to suspect she wasn’t the only one facing discrimination.

The Huffington Post conducted a number of interviews with Starbucks employees, most of whom have worked for the company for over 10 years.

“[They] described similar patterns of being unfairly criticized at work, passed over for promotions, given fewer responsibilities over time and ultimately being forced out or let go for reasons that were at odds with their high performance,” wrote the Huffington Post.

They also reported some employees experiencing discrimination at work through age-related comments from management and ostracization.

Elderly employees, like Andrea, suffer from health issues that often require surgery. Many aren’t able to stand on their feet for long periods during the day, but the lack of movement within the company has forced some to quit. It’s like a table tennis match, but the managers are firing back expert shots at 100 miles an hour and the employees are amateur players at best.

The recent claims against Starbucks aren’t anything new. In 2013, a Maryland Starbucks received a complaint from a former 65-year-old barista after she was fired and replaced with younger workers. Her case was dismissed.

In 2015, a case was settled between a former Starbucks manager and the company. The 63-year-old claimed they had been wrongly terminated because of their age.

Those who have faced discrimination say their complaints to human resources have been largely dismissed.

“We have zero tolerance for any sort of harassment of any kind and have a very clear set of guidelines when any type of harassment or discrimination claims like this are made,” claimed spokesman Reggie Borges.

But Starbucks’ history with ageism says otherwise.

“I told my husband ‘If I don’t go to work tomorrow, I’m going to lose my job.’ It never felt like there was a real performance issue or anything out there I had missed. I really felt like I was a target immediately,” claimed another older Starbucks employee.

It’s yet to be seen if Starbucks is going to take corrective action in response to these claims.

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