Starbucks Workers at Airports Speak Out About Mistreatment

Racial Equity Issues

“I have witnessed supervisors […] repeatedly use the n-word in casual conversation when referring to other people. They feel comfortable saying it in front of associates and baristas without fearing repercussions, regardless of race.”

—Zeyad Elmashak, HMSHost Starbucks barista, Orlando International Airport

“Working with [name redacted] makes me uncomfortable. He has gotten uncomfortably close to me and has made racist remarks. He was chanting 'build the wall' and 'Make America Great Again' to me.”

–Connie Fong, Starbucks barista employed by HMSHost, Portland International Airport

Airport Starbucks Workers Living in Poverty

“I have to use payday loans for food. Sometimes I go hungry…I don’t eat if there is not enough food, to make sure the kids in my house get fed.”

—Jay Kelly, HMSHost Starbucks barista, Orlando International Airport

“After paying for rent and utilities, there is not much money left for food. During my time at HMSHost Starbucks, a $10 deal for four boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk became my go-to. I was not getting the nutrition I needed.”

—DarVel Suggs, HMSHost Starbucks barista, Charlotte International Airport

“I was homeless at one point so I would have to sleep in the airport multiple times and wouldn’t have enough money to get a hotel room for the week, wouldn’t have enough money to eat so I would have to wait until my break to eat at work.”

—Marlo Jones, former HMSHost Starbucks barista, Orlando International Airport

“I was working at HMSHost when I was still 18 in my last year in high school and I got accepted into Florida State University. I had to drop it when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to afford it. I dropped college and started working three jobs.”

—Zeyad Elmashak, HMSHost Starbucks barista, Orlando International Airport

LGBTQ Airport Starbucks Baristas Come Forward

“I was misgendered and discriminated against and it reached a point where enough is enough, it was when one of my managers ridiculed me in front of the passengers and coworkers by shouting out ‘sir, he’ll be right with you!’ and pointing at me. She was laughing and smiling assuming that that was funny, but that moment was the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

Gigi Tolentino, fired HMSHost Starbucks barista, Honolulu International Airport

Immigrant Workers Want Starbucks to End “English-only” Policies

“I had an experience with one of the managers, she publicly said that a customer was upset at me because of my English with an accent.  I think that the customer was upset because we didn’t have what the customer ordered and then the customer had to wait for a refund. I felt humiliated because accent or no accent, I’m still able to do my job.”

–Martha Mendoza, HMSHost Starbucks barista, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport