Starbucks is investigating an employee termination at its Centereach store after a Springs couple witnessed the "homophobic rant" directed at a gay employee and wrote about it in their blog.
Their account has gone viral.
The couple, Missy and Dana Alison, who live in East Hampton Town, say they were running errands with their 3-year-old daughter Lily on Sunday afternoon in Centereach, about 60 miles from their home, when they witnessed a manager in the Starbucks store on Middle Country Road scold the employee in front of his peers.
In an open letter to Starbucks, which was posted on Dana's blog, Missy wrote, "I saw one of the most brazen and unapologetic displays of homophobia I have ever witnessed in my entire life."
The post recounts the manager reproaching Jeffery for doing things like talking about his politics or partners while he is in the store, a discussion that ended with Jeffery leaving the store being forced out of his a job. The post has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter, and has been read more than 15,000 times.
Starbucks said Jeffrey was not fired, but rather voluntarily turned in his keys.
In response to the account, Starbucks has publicly said in its own corporate blog that it will investigate the incident.
"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. 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," the company said.
"They are taking this seriously," Missy said.
In the end, all Missy said she wanted was for Starbucks to be aware there was a problem.
"I just want this made right. If nothing else, I want to know that there's not a black mark on Jeffrey's work record."
She said she was a bit overwhelmed by the attention her letter has received. "We're really average," she said with a laugh about her and her wife. "We're not on a soap box, we don't really attend rallies, we don't have a rainbow-anything," she said.
She's not confrontational about their lifestyle, she said. "Maybe it's a lesson. You don't have to be aggressive to be in their faces to change their minds about things."
Dana said she's proud of her wife's actions. "We just did what anybody should have done, and what I hope someone else would do if it were my wife or my daughter in Jeffrey's seat that day. People need to look out for each other," she said.
"I am just amazed at the reactions and attention this has gotten," Dana said. "The power of the internet is amazing; it holds everyone accountable for their actions."
As for Jeffrey, according to a post on Dana’s blog Wednesday morning, he’s planning to take legal action against the company.