SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A California woman took to social media to criticize a Starbucks barista for refusing to serve her because she didn’t have on a mask. That barista ended up getting $100,000 dollars in donations.
Now the spurned customer wants half of that money – and is threatening to sue to get it.
Amber Gilles says she posted a photo of barista Lenin Gutierrez after he asked her to wear a mask at Starbucks.
The caption reads “Meet Lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”
That post exploded online, and a GoFundMe to raise tip money for Gutierrez surpassed $100,000.
Gilles claims she has medical problems preventing her from wearing a mask and that she was discriminated against. She also said she thinks masks are not effective.
“I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat,” said Gilles. “And I do have asthma as well, and I do get ‘maskne’. So there’s several things going on and not only that but it doesn’t even work.”
She shared two pieces of paperwork to show what she calls a medical exemption. A 2015 doctors report she shared shows analysis of her uterus and an ovarian cyst.
And a handwritten note with a San Diego chiropractor’s letterhead that she asked not to be shown on camera says she has “underlying health conditions that prevent her from wearing a mask.”
She says her post about the experience is a First Amendment right.
“It was discrimination and everybody is okay with it and enabling and rewarding that kind of behavior,” said Gilles.
Gilles wants half of the money donated, which was given to Gutierrez in cash last week, and is threatening to sue.
She says the lawyers she’s spoken to about taking her case are expensive and she can’t afford one yet – so she started her own GoFundMe to raise legal fees.
When asked if she has any apology or message to the public, Gilles replied: “No absolutely not. I feel like I need the apology. I’ve been discriminated against, I’m the one who’s sick.”
Starbucks now requires customers to wear facial coverings or masks in all 9,000 of its company-owned American stores.
The mandate supersedes local laws in some states or cities that might not require wearing one.
Customers who refuse to wear a mask inside can order using delivery, the drive-thru or curbside pickup, the company said.