Starbucks incident raises concern over treatment of disabled customers

by Alyssa Gilman
A recent incident at a Starbucks coffee shop, where a disabled veteran was treated poorly by an employee, has triggered a nationwide response, and reminds individuals that those with disabilities should still be treated with respect and courtesy.
U.S. Army veteran Yancy Baer visited a Texas Starbucks for a meeting with the event coordinator for Canine Companions for Independence in early February. This organization helped Baer obtain his service dog, Beans, after the veteran’s left leg was amputated due to bone cancer, which was found after a non-combat injury he suffered in 2009.
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Upon arrival at the Starbucks location with his dog, Baer was confronted by a belligerent employee telling him that dogs were not allowed in the store. Baer told the worker that Beans was his service dog, to which the employee responded, “Well, you’re not blind.”
After Baer explained his actual disability and how Beans helps him by opening and closing drawers, retrieving items, and turning lights on and off, the employee’s ignorance persisted. “Why can’t you do that?” he asked, leaving Baer frustrated with his violation of both service dog laws and  the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bans discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for disabled people in public accommodations (
The lack of respect Baer encountered at this Starbucks is appalling and unacceptable.
“It’s very ignorant to ask why the veteran couldn’t do those things by himself,” said sophomore Mary Catherine Stovall. “He didn’t have a service dog for no reason.”
With harsh words and assumptions, the employee acted inconsiderately of this man’s situation. Simple patience would have revealed why the veteran needed to bring this dog with him.
“There needs to be more understanding that [the veterans] made a sacrifice for our country and have problems because of their sacrifices,” said junior Jimmy Killeen.
Unconditional respect has been earned by those who have fought for this nation’s safety by risking their own. However, a certain respect should also be held for people with any disability.
Baer stated that stores cannot judge their customers based on their looks, addressing a large issue for disabled Americans. As the Starbucks employee did not seem to understand, it is nobody’s business exactly what a person’s disability is; the mere presence of a disability should be accommodated by those serving customers. Additionally, just because a disability is not clearly visible does not mean that it is not present.
With more understanding and awareness, instances like Baer’s can be avoided in the future.
“People should be more willing to lend a hand to those who may need assistance even if it is just at the local Starbucks or h­olding the door for them,” said junior Mykala Porter. “Any act of kindness goes a long way.”