Starbucks Sued For Gay “Harassment”

Two former employees are suing coffee giant Starbucks after allegedly being harassed my an anti-gay executive.

Joseph Hooks and Dorothy Baker both claim that Craig Sawyer, the company’s director of equal opportunity and compliance, discriminated against them because they were gay. Hooks insists, among other things, that Sawyer refused to invite him to a “boys only” lunch, lobbed around anti-gay comments and eventually told higher ups that Hooks had resigned, when in fact he had not.

Baker, meanwhile, says that Sawyer treated her differently after finding out she likes ladies. Sawyer allegedly began skipping meetings with Baker and began griping to other employees that she wasn’t up to par. The most interesting piece of this lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month, is that Sawyer reportedly has a bit of a homophobic past…

Before he was hired, Sawyer was interviewed by May Snowden, vice president of global diversity; during the interview, the suit says, he told her “in words or substance” that he had grown up in an environment, including military service, “where there was prejudice against homosexuals.” According to the lawsuit, Sawyer told her he was on a “personal journey to overcome this bias in himself.”

Now, why on earth would Starbucks hire a diversity specialist who admitted to harboring homophobic sentiments? Maybe they thought it would help him, who knows?

Starbucks didn’t comment on the particulars of the lawsuit, but said they “regret” Hooks and Baker feel they were treated unfairly. The company also reiterated its commitment to workplace equality, “We are proud of our long history as a leading, progressive employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.” Starbucks has offered same-sex benefits since the late 1970s, which explains why HRC and others given it the gay stamp of approval.

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  • Woof

    Oh please, I don’t think there is any gayer place to work than Starbucks…well….maybe Disney.

  • Darth Paul

    A “gay” environment that loves gay money doesn’t mean that queer employees are treated with proper respect and protection under law, Woof.

  • mds

    I think that Starbucks as a company is probably one of the best employers for gays, that said, it would actually be the best P.R.
    they could ever get if they showed the public that they were sincerely concerned about these allegations and were doing everything they could to get to the bottom of them. Just because the company as a whole is good to gays does not mean that there are not some individual employees in positions of authority that are not. My partner works for a wonderful Canadian company. They are fabulous. The CEO is one of the best men you could ever meet and he and his wife have even sat at the dinner table with us at important company functions, quite an honor considering my partner is in middle management. But there is an asshole that works there who is a V.P. a big time evangelical nut case that is always making homophobic comments to others. Because everyone knows that this guy is just a piece of shit and the fact that my partner is treated like gold and really has never been directly affected by this piece of shits problems he does not make any stink about it.
    The company only puts up with this idiot cause he discovered the product that the whole company is built upon. But if my partner wanted to he could make an issue out of it. So even in the best of companies there can be garbage because the world ain’t perfect. I don’t understand why a company as rich as they are goes directly to denial, it makes them look far worst in the eyes of the public in the long run.

  • hell's kitchen guy

    I casually know Sawyer. This sounds like bullshit.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    The coffee is Gawd-awful and all the pastries have roaches but the dumb-ass tourists and Sex in The City clones won’t ever know. Ya had to be a Barista….to know that! Who cares if they react Gay Positive when the food is Poison or just really, really old tasting!

  • Golden.Girls

    I worked at Starbucks for a few years, and although I harbor much ill will toward its customers, I will say it was the most gay-friendly environment I ever worked in. Like, extremely gay-friendly. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bad apples in the bunch. It would just surprise me a lot. Starbucks isn’t the right company to work for if you fear the homos.

  • MAB

    Being a non-homophobic, straight married female, why is everyone making a big stink over gays? GAys and Lesbians are people just like you and me, only with different preferences. They work like everyone else,pay taxes like everyone else, live and die like everyone else. They charged Starbucks with harassment for being gay. Does that make it any different from sexual harassment? No, harassment is harassment. If it were sexual harassment by a woman to a man or woman, or vise versa,they wouldn’t make a big deal of it news-wise. But because it’s a suit filed by a gay man and woman, it seems to bring out all the bible-thumping, fire and brimstone “religious, god fearing” demoralizing, judgmental morons, not to mention the ignorant peckerwoods that are so isolated that they believe everything people tell them only because they probably can’t read,to make and/or leave comments that would have a person think who’s ass they have their heads up. Anyway, I hope Joseph and Dorothy win there case. And it’s sad that Starbucks would allow such a scumbag of a man to breath within the walls of the company. I’ll step off my soapbox now, and thank you.

  • Charles J. Mueller

    Obn behalf of the gay community, we thank you for your supportive views and comments. If only more people like you would come forth instead of all the bible-thumpers you described. As a gay man of 71 and with a lot of experience in dealing with the public under my belt, I must say that the majority of straight folks I have had the pleasure of interacting during my lifetime, have been very much like you. It’s a pity that we always hear about the homophobes, which by the way, some in both straight and gay flavors. lol Thanks again for your most positive support. You sound like a very good person with a great live and let live attitude. Much happiness to you.

  • MAB

    Thank you Mr. Mueller. I support the gay communities everywhere. I was THRILLED when California made it legal for Gays and Lesbians to marry. Why not? People are people and who you love and want to spend the rest of your life with should make no difference whether your straight or gay. I know that, in my experiene, that my straight friends divorce more often than gays or lesbians. I hear the average marriage (straight) is 5-10 or so years. I’ve read about gay couples that were (are)married for 50 years!! I’m envious of that kind of love and strong devotion. The discrimination G & L’s must endure is much worse than racial discrimination, in my opinion. However I’m not dicounting any form of dicrimination against anyone.I too wish that people would come around and just see who people are, not wha they think they are.

  • themooksman

    A few days ago I got outed, as a customer, by a fundamentalist “partner” (young enough to be my grand daughter– if I were straight) at the downtown San Clemente California Starbucks. She claimed “someone told her” they saw me looking at “gay porn” on my computer at Starbucks (months ago) now I was never allowed to return. Last Saturday, they took my money, gave me a coffee, but called the cops, accusing me of “trespassing” in their store, even though it was open for business. As I was walking away, I nearly got shot in the back by the homophobe cops. Yes,
    From the Sheriff’s online blotter
    [12/12/2009 21:22:15 : pos8 : FELLOWSDT] [Cleared with unit 476] [12/12/2009 21:00:11 : pos8 : FELLOWSDT] Unit : 476 ACROSS THE STREET ON THE SIDEWALK [12/12/2009 20:53:24 : pos6 : ASMITH] Cross streets: AVD PRESIDIO//AVD VICTORIA NBH: 992J4 92672 33.426255,-117.611385 STARBUCKS COFFEE— 931 EMP REF A MALE WHO HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN TOLD NOT TO RETURN FOR LOOKING AT GAY PORN ON HIS LAPTOP AT THE 10-20, SUBJ IS NOW 97 AND REFUSING TO LEAVE THE PRIMESES

    San Clemente is a small town. By now, everyone knows it was me. Since the town is so homophobic, I tried to keep my sexual orientation on the DL. No more.

  • Tully'sCoffee

    THEMOOKSMAN – come join us at Tully’s Coffee. You won’t get that type of discrimination or treatment at our coffeehouse. =)

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