A former Starbucks employee has sued the chain for firing him (and a coworker) after they successfully fought back against would-be robbers.
Michael Harris, 20, was working the drive-through at a Starbucks in Missouri on Dec. 17th when two seemingly armed hooligans — identified as Joshua Noe, 37, and Marquise Porter-Doyle, 35 — walked into the restaurant and tried to rob everybody.
“I thought I was gonna die that day. They walked in, announced that it was a robbery. They started going up to people and frisking them for stuff,” Harris recalled to local station KSDK.
At one point, the two demanded cash from the register, but when Harris was unable to open it, one of the two allegedly hit him on the head with his supposed gun. There was just one problem.
“The trigger for it busted off,” Harris recalled to KSDK.
Realizing that the gun was fake, he and the coworker, Devin Jones-Ransom, then started fighting back.
“During the fight, police allege Noe and Porter-Doyle each punched one of the victims in the face,” according to the Riverfront Times.
“Even so, a police incident summary says the people in the Starbucks were able to subdue and detain Noe. Porter-Doyle fled before police arrived, but officers found him a short time later,” the paper reported.
All was well afterward up until a couple of weeks later when Harris got a call from Starbucks.
“They terminated me,” he told KSDK. “They didn’t really give me a reason why I was terminated. They just told me I was, and I just had to accept it.”
Both he and his attorneys are now seeking answers.
“They didn’t create the dangerous scenario — they just did what they were supposed to do in that scenario,” attorney Ryan Krupp said to the station.
“It happens fast. There’s no way that an individual can be faced with danger, attempted potential death of themselves or another, and then once they’ve been hit or downed, that they cannot defend themselves,” he continued.
“It’s a fundamental principle of the law of this nation and the law of this state that when faced with a life-or-death scenario, you are afforded the ability to defend yourself,” attorney Robert Thomas Topping added.
According to Harris, he misses his job.
“I was hurt, especially because I tried to do my best for everybody else. I tried to be the best person I could to help everybody,” he said.
In a statement to KSDK, Starbucks suggested he and his coworker had erred by not following a policy that says employees are required to de-escalate and comply with villains.
“The safety and wellbeing of our partners (employees) and customers is always our first concern. All partners are expected to follow our carefully crafted protocols to ensure the safety of customers and partners during these situations,” the company said.
“At the time of hire and once a year thereafter, all partners go through de-escalation training. Part of that training includes armed robbery scenarios where partners are asked to comply with demands and to avoid doing or saying anything that can escalate the situation,” it added.
But because of its stern policies, the company is now facing a potential boycott, with critics rising up across social media — particularly on the app X — to voice their displeasure with the brand.
These companies are defined by their cowardice. There’s literally zero accountability to the company for not providing security at their store. If I am this employee I lawyer up real quick.
— Adrian Rodgers (@AdrianWRodgers) January 26, 2024
I hope they get every penny @Starbucks has. This is the biggest travesty I’ve ever heard of…. You can’t even defend your own life while at work? even if you been smashed in the head? What is wrong with our country?
— Hans Gruber the Great (@f__pittman) January 27, 2024
@starbucks takes away his livelihood for defending himself in a life or death situation. I’m boycotting @starbucks over this. Spread the word, @starbucks would be fine with having all their employees killed during armed robbery
— IVY (@HOTSTOCKPICKSG) January 27, 2024
Starbucks employee defending his life from violent robbers, who were pistol whipping him, gets fired by Starbucks.@Starbucks should be boycotted by everyone, unless they immediately rehire this hero and give him a promotion.
— BigApplePhoenix (@BigApplePhoenix) January 26, 2024
Wow really. At @Starbucks the employees are treated worse than prisoners. Why would anybody want to work there? Why would anyone pay for this? Imagine getting coffee and witnessing horrible violence forced on the person trying to serve you coffee.
— TheGreatSun (@The_GreatSun) January 27, 2024
In the meantime, Harris is reportedly struggling to pay his bills and college tuition now that he’s without work.
“That job was helping me pay for college,” he told the New York Post. “I just don’t understand it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
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