A Starbucks in Dublin has been instructed to pay €12,000 in compensation after a Brazilian employee drew ‘slanty’ eyes on a cup to denote a customer of Irish-Thai heritage.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) concluded that Suchavadee Foley was racially harassed by a staff member at Atercin Liffey Unlimited trading as Starbucks Tallaght while purchasing a coffee at the premises in January 2020.
The Irish Times reports that adjudication officer Kevin Baneham of the WRC stated: “This was not a drawing of the complainant, but a sketch of one part of her and one clearly associated with race.”
The Starbucks in question denied that the drawing was a racist incident. A legal representative for the coffee outlet stated that a band called ‘The Slants’ has previously campaigned to re-appropriate the depiction of eyes in the same way that “queer” had been re-appropriated by the LGBT community and that the employee simply thought Ms Foley was “glamorous”.
The commission also heard that the employee has since apologised to Ms Foley.
Mr Baneham concluded that while the employee did not set out to intentionally harass the customer, the action clearly “had a degrading and humiliating effect”.
Following the hearing, a Starbucks spokesperson stated: “We are deeply sorry that this incident took place and we have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind at Starbucks.
“We accept the adjudicator’s conclusion that our partner did not intend to harass this customer and we have retrained the team at this store.”