Deaf N.Y. Starbucks patrons sue, say they're mocked

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NEW YORK — Some Starbucks workers in the city were so rude to deaf customers they mocked them and called the police to try to get them kicked out, a lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order from the court to stop discriminatory behavior in what's described as multiple occasions of abuse over the past year.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan last week on behalf of 12 people, says one Starbucks Corp. employee laughed hysterically at a plaintiff's speech while others objected to a monthly meeting of a group of deaf people and called police.

Starbucks spokeswoman Jamie Riley said the Seattle-based company, which refers to its employees as partners, is investigating.

The lawsuit said the police were summoned to a Starbucks store at Astor Place, in lower Manhattan, on March 7 after more than 10 people, some of whom bought coffee and pastries, gathered for the monthly meeting.

According to the lawsuit, those participating in the meeting were "shocked and frightened" when police responded to a report of a disturbance, a meeting being conducted without a permit and an allegation that most deaf people at the store weren't paying customers.

The police officers found no illegal conduct and apologized to the plaintiffs before reprimanding Starbucks employees for calling them, the lawsuit said.