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Barista sues downtown Starbucks for age discrimination

Manager allegedly slighted 58-year-old woman over gray hair and more

A 58-year-old barista who worked at the Starbucks located at 511 F Street says she was roasted by former managers for being too old for her job.

On Monday, November 18, the barista, Mary McLain, filed suit against the coffee chain in San Diego's federal district court for wrongful termination, age discrimination, harassment, and unlawful retaliation.

McLain alleges that for most of her ten years as an employee she received numerous commendations from several different managers.

That changed in 2011, according to her complaint, when manager Robert Torrey gave McLain her first negative job review. Around the same time, he refused to give the barista a raise and instead chose to promote younger workers ahead of her, despite her job performance.

McLain says her complaints about the unfair treatment fell on deaf ears when she approached the district manager. Left with nowhere to turn to, she took her complaints to the corporate office.

In the following months, work conditions improved — that is, until January 2012, when her manager told her that "she should get her hair done because the gray was showing and it does not look good" and "to slow down while mopping the floor because she might have a heart attack."

On June 15, McLain was "two minutes" late to work due to car problems. Six days later, Torrey fired her.

"Plaintiff was harassed, and subjected to a hostile work environment by the actions, conduct, and comments of Defendant's employees, which actions, conduct, and comments combined to create and allow a pattern of discriminatory and harassing treatment of plaintiff because she was and is over the age of 40 and because she reported unlawful discrimination and harassment."

McLain is suing the coffee chain for lost wages, humiliation, emotional distress, as well as "punitive" and exemplary damages.

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A 58-year-old barista who worked at the Starbucks located at 511 F Street says she was roasted by former managers for being too old for her job.

On Monday, November 18, the barista, Mary McLain, filed suit against the coffee chain in San Diego's federal district court for wrongful termination, age discrimination, harassment, and unlawful retaliation.

McLain alleges that for most of her ten years as an employee she received numerous commendations from several different managers.

That changed in 2011, according to her complaint, when manager Robert Torrey gave McLain her first negative job review. Around the same time, he refused to give the barista a raise and instead chose to promote younger workers ahead of her, despite her job performance.

McLain says her complaints about the unfair treatment fell on deaf ears when she approached the district manager. Left with nowhere to turn to, she took her complaints to the corporate office.

In the following months, work conditions improved — that is, until January 2012, when her manager told her that "she should get her hair done because the gray was showing and it does not look good" and "to slow down while mopping the floor because she might have a heart attack."

On June 15, McLain was "two minutes" late to work due to car problems. Six days later, Torrey fired her.

"Plaintiff was harassed, and subjected to a hostile work environment by the actions, conduct, and comments of Defendant's employees, which actions, conduct, and comments combined to create and allow a pattern of discriminatory and harassing treatment of plaintiff because she was and is over the age of 40 and because she reported unlawful discrimination and harassment."

McLain is suing the coffee chain for lost wages, humiliation, emotional distress, as well as "punitive" and exemplary damages.

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Comments
9

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is 60 years old. Should he step down? He's too old, right?

Nov. 20, 2013

I pray she recovers every dime she was wrongfully deprived AND the manager as well as the corporation is held completely accountable for treble damages.

Nov. 20, 2013

This grande lady was violated in bold fashion and has every right to venti. Fired for being two minutes latte!! That alone is enough to ice one's coffee. How un-Americano of them. I hope someone's hazelnuts wind up in the grinder over this.

Nov. 21, 2013

Duhbya, Where were you yesterday when I needed you? I tried to use some of those same puns on twitter but didn't come close to your work here. "Every right to venti"? Wow, pure genius.-dH

Nov. 21, 2013

Thanks, but they're just there for the taking. No genius, I simply observe. Actually, your use of the word "roasted" in the first line was my inspiration. I'll send you my number for future reference. ;>)

Nov. 21, 2013

Give yourself some credit. And, that roasted line was the low-hanging fruit.-dH

Nov. 21, 2013

Aw, shucks

......or should I say "husks"?

Cool beans, anyway.

Nov. 21, 2013

Part of the settlement (getting her job back and a nice bit of cash) should require Torrey to do a full shift as a barista. It's a lot tougher job than it appears.

Nov. 21, 2013

Very true, DWBat. I'm sure it is a tough gig. And, it's even tougher because it sounds like she liked her job-dH

Nov. 22, 2013

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