'Slanty eyes': Starbucks compensates Thai customer after drawing on cup

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·2-min read

A Starbucks store has been ordered to pay compensation to a customer after an employee was found to have racially profiled her in an inappropriate drawing.

Thai woman Suchavadee Foley will be paid about A$19,000 due to her experience as she ordered a matcha tea latte at Starbucks Tallaght in Dublin, Ireland, on January 12 last year.

An employee, instead of writing the shortened first name offered by Ms Foley on her cup, drew a smile and a pair of “slanty” eyes.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that under the Equal Status Act, the drawing was evidence that Ms Foley was racially harassed.

The Starbucks employee was found to have harassed the customer with the drawing. Source: Getty Images
The Starbucks employee was found to have harassed the customer with the drawing. Source: Getty Images

Adjudication officer for the WRC Kevin Baneham said it was “clear that the visual depiction relates to her race”.

Ms Foley, who moved to Ireland from Thailand when she was five or six, claimed the ordeal left her feeling offended and demeaned.

Instead of the employee using Ms Foley's name on her cup "a physical descriptor was used, in this case her eyes", Mr Baneham said.

“This was not a drawing of the complainant, but a sketch of one part of her and one clearly associated with race,” he added.

He accepted the employee, who’s from Brazil, didn’t intend on humiliating Ms Foley and acknowledged the employee regretted the mistake.

The employee claimed she thought the customer was "glamorous". Source: Getty Images
The employee claimed she thought the customer was "glamorous". Source: Getty Images

When giving evidence through an interpreter, the employee claimed she drew Ms Foley’s face that way because she thought she was “glamorous”.

She had been working at the branch for about a month and apparently often drew on people’s cups in leu of writing their name, like in the case of a birthday.

A spokeswoman from Starbucks said the company was “deeply sorry” and had “no tolerance for discrimination of any kind”.

She added the employee had no intention of harassing the customer and the team had been retrained to avoid a similar incident in future.

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