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Caught on Video: Starbucks Barista Kicks Out a Woman With a Service Dog

Why is it so hard for businesses to educate workers on service dogs?

 |  Sep 2nd 2014  |   4 Contributions


Starbucks has more than 13,000 stores around the United States, all serving the exact same thing the exact same way. You know its training manual has been honed to perfection, giving all employees precise instructions on how to deal with anything that comes their way, such as soccer moms asking for more caramel drizzle dammit, or people who insist on using the word "doppio." 

So why did an employee in a Brighton, New York, store kick out a woman with a service dog?

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It happened in around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31, when 24-year-old Amy Kaplan entered the store with her Malamute, Zero. Two years ago, Kaplan suffered a traumatic brain injury as an emergency responder when the ambulance she was working in crashed, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. Zero assists with her memory issues -- helping her find her car and the like -- and also helping with Kaplan's anxiety issues. 

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Starbucks, however, wasn't having it. The employee wanted her out, even after she calmly told the employee that Zero was a service dog. The employee demurred, saying that he saw "no proof" that Zero was a service dog. Kaplan, well aware that under the Americans with Disabilities Act she is not required to have any documents or papers on hand, attempted to tell the employee as such. He waved her away. He also told someone else to not take any pictures in the store. 

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"This is a part of daily life when you're a service dog handler," Kaplan told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Everywhere you go, nobody wants to let me in." 

Kaplan recorded the exchange, and the employee falls way short on knowing the store policy -- and the law -- concerning service dogs. Starbucks should be doing a better job getting that information out.

After Kaplan posted the video to YouTube, Starbucks scrambled. 

"It's unfortunate that this happened," Laurel Harper, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, told the Democrat and Chronicle. "Ms. Kaplan did have an experience that's absolutely inconsistent with our values and our service animal policy."

As per the handbook, Harper says that employees are trained to simply ask whether a dog is a service dog and "to welcome customers who say yes without further questions." She told the Democrat and Chronicle that the company sends out reminders once a year. 

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As for Kaplan, she's sick of employees constantly questioning her about her dog, and she went public with the video to get the word out. 

“It is extremely stressful to know that every place you go in a day you run the chance of someone telling you to get out because you have a medical assistance device,” Kaplan told WHEC. "Imagine if you are in a wheelchair and they said you can’t come in here, we don’t allow wheelchairs.”

Via the Democrat and Chronicle

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