Don’t Shoot the Messenger

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” EE Cummings

So many times I, as a advocate will uncover a fact about someone or some body popular, like the fact that Starbucks has a well hidden history of institutionalised abuse of the disabled. The judgement of you the reader is not whether you knew or not, it’s what you do once you know. Some exclaim horror and picket while others like in the case of Starbucks  will swear never to step foot in the establishment ever again.

Here’s the problem, we the disabled, by the nature of our lives and the limitations of our body sometimes don’t have a choice. Our only option is to fight until we facilitate change.  If you’re a fan of Starbucks, if their coffee got you through countless midterms, or nightshifts at the hospital we understand, just don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not bashing you. If I inform you it’s not a personal attack and if your best friend is a barrista it’s not personal about her, she just works for a corporate bully.

If you love the person sitting next to you and that person is disabled or the one they love is, then vicariously through that love you have for that person, you must stand up and take the position that if the person you love has their rights taken away or impinged upon by a corporation or goverment we who love them are left with no other choice but to link arms and storm the collective bastilles.

Next time the fear of losing the perfect decaf half caf soy macchiato fills you with dread  remember the price your loved one is paying for it and you’ll find it’s a hell of a lot more than the perfect cup of joe.


Starbucks it Seems it’s Not Your First Rodeo at Disabled Discrimination!!

Well as my regulars know several weeks ago my spouse and I were thrown out of a Starbucks store because qoute “wheelchairs congest their store. ” Well we started negotiations with the store, they made huge promises to settle this and after three weeks of claiming a perfect record with the treatment of the disabled and then telling me unless I wanted to make it a legal matter their offer was a $100 gift card. We settled to get on with our lives and now I am finding a veritable pandora’s box of Starbucks abusing and being sued and federally fined for treatment of the disabled going back over a decade.  They were given their chance, they lied and wiggled out of it. Now it’s my turn. I will find every case ever brought against them. I will document them and catalogue them and publish my findings on every blog, website and social networking site because obviously Starbucks would rather we the disabled just mailed our money in and left our damn nuisance wheelchairs somewhere else.
Posted On: August 25, 2009 by Schwartz & Perry

EEOC Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Starbucks

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a disability discrimination against Starbucks Corporation Sept. 8 alleging that its one of its stores refused to hire an applicant for a barista position because of his multiple sclerosis condition.

In its complaint, the EEOC alleges that Chuck Hannay applied for one of six positions at this Starbucks’ location but was treated differently from other interviewees. Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit seeks monetary relief, Hannay being instated to a Starbucks job, and an injunction against future discrimination.


Starbucks sued by EEOC over firing of disabled woman

Puget Sound Business Journal

Date: Thursday, September 14, 2006, 1:56pm PDT – Last Modified: Thursday, September 14, 2006, 2:49pm PDT


Human Resources

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Starbucks Coffee Co., saying the coffee retailer didn’t accommodate the needs of a disabled woman, fired her, and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the government’s workplace discrimination lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) knew that Christine Drake had a psychiatric disability when she was hired, and granted her “a reasonable accommodation that allowed her to successfully perform her job for two years.”

In a statement, the EEOC says that when new management took over the store at 425 Queen Anne Ave. N. in Seattle, “the new management almost immediately began discriminating against Drake by decreasing her hours, berating her in front of customers, and ignoring her requests for help which continued on a near daily basis until she was fired.”

Kathryn Olson, supervisory trial attorney with the EEOC in the Seattle field office, said that the “reasonable accommodation” for Drake included additional training and other accommodations.

“She might not get assigned to making drinks during the busiest time of the day. That kind of difficulty she had performing under extreme pressure could be taken into account,” Olson said.

The suit seeks monetary damages, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site, “and other injunctive relief,” according to the EEOC.

In a statement, Starbucks responded: “Starbucks Coffee Company has not been contacted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about this lawsuit nor have we seen a copy of the complaint.”


Starbucks agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed in 2006 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the company fired a Seattle barista with bipolar disorder


Starbucks and New York State (NYS) reach Settlement Agreement:
On May 13th the Civil Rights Bureau of the NY Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and Starbucks reached a settlement agreement regarding accommodating employees and applicants with disabilities. The OAG initiated an investigation in response to complaints alleging that Starbucks failed to accommodate potential applicants with disabilities. As a result of the investigation, Starbucks has agreed to change its policies and procedures for accommodating employees and applicants with disabilities, revise its training program, designate a compliance coordinator, and collaborate with organizations to conduct targeted outreach to and recruitment of individuals with disabilities.


Teen says Starbucks supervisor abused her



A Southern California teenager is suing Starbucks Corp., alleging negligence and sexual harassment after she says she was forced “hundreds of times” into a sexual relationship with a store supervisor who also fondled her and asked for sex while at work.

The case, filed last week in Orange County, Calif., alleges that managers at an Irvine store knew of the “sexual harassment, molestation and abuse and illicit drug and alcohol activity” committed by the supervisor but did nothing to prevent it.

A spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that the case is under criminal investigation but no charges had been filed. She declined further comment. The Seattle P-I does not usually name suspects unless they have been charged.

Brandon Borrman, a spokesman for the Seattle-based coffee chain, said he had not seen the lawsuit and was unable to answer specific questions. He added: “The safety of our partners is our top priority. But, unfortunately, we cannot comment on pending litigation.”

The 13-count suit also alleges that on at least two occasions, the supervisor, who was 24 at the time, videotaped sex acts with the then-16-year-old girl and showed them to a fellow Starbucks supervisor. That second supervisor was later transferred and promoted to manager at another Irvine Starbucks store, the P-I has learned.

Those two supervisors hosted parties where minor employees were provided alcohol and “illicit drugs,” the civil suit says. Those men could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Starbucks senior management “acted to cover up, conceal and hide” the abuse from the public, the girl’s parents and law enforcement, the suit claims. John Manly, an attorney for the girl, said Wednesday that her mother notified the police earlier this year. The girl said that in February 2006, she and her parents went to a Starbucks store manager about the alleged abuse. The manager, according to the lawsuit, told the parents that “Starbucks’ policies did not allow her to fire or suspend” the supervisor accused of sexual abuse. It was unclear Wednesday if that supervisor still was employed at Starbucks.

The manager, in a phone interview, referred questions to the company’s headquarters. However, the woman confirmed that the supervisor accused of viewing the sex tape was promoted.

The suit is the latest in a handful of legal problems facing Starbucks. It comes a month after Starbucks agreed to pay $75,000 to a Seattle woman to end a case in which the woman claimed she was berated in front of customers and had her hours reduced because of a mental disability. The company also is in litigation before the National Labor Relations Board in New York over alleged terminations, discrimination, interference and surveillance of baristas.

In the California case, the girl started working for Starbucks in July 2005; from December of that year to July 7, 2006, when she moved out of state, the supervisor forced her to have sexual intercourse and perform oral sex, the suit claims. The suit also alleges the supervisor sent the girl profane text messages.

“If you need a situation of a hostile work environment, this is it,” Manly said in an interview. “Employers have an obligation to look out for kids. … If this is any indication, they do a very poor job of protecting them.”

Read more:





 The store is on the corner of bank st and greenwhich ave  in the west village newyork, I immediately  rang starbucks was told the manager would be fired , he was not,I was told   corporate  would also  make some offer  They did not.

YOU BROKE THE FEDERAL AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT and your offer is a “couple of free coffees” really????. No I Don’t think so ,I make a better coffee   with my eyes closed. So Jennifer Gurtov  regional manager  for Manhattan  you were told be honest or be outed to the goverment and the disabled community You were not so NowI’ll keep my promise.

 We dont want your pity, we dont need “two free coffees” we need, no demand that you adhere strictly to federal laws or we will report you for every single breach and then vote with our coffee dollars .


The Constitution Guarantees Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness? Unless your Disabled!

A few hundred years ago a bunch of colonials got together over a few Ales and wrote a Constitution for the newly formed United States. In England, dating from the signing of The Magna Carta, to guy fawkes blowing up parliament, to coal miners striking, the English have been a breed that fought for every right they damn well deserved as my dar a proud Yorkshireman would tell me  when he had a few ales in him. My native Australia,  since Peter Lawlor and a few pissed off mates fought the rise of mining licences under the Southern Cross it  has had a proud history of fighting and getting every pay rise, medical cover and living condition the hard way or no way at all.

Now in the 21st century, one by one they are stripping disabled pensions in England, living allowances in Australia and mad politicians think we’re just a smudge on society that should be deported or sent to gulags in the desert somewhere because we get too much.

The problem is the hypocrisy! If  a man goes to war —  he’s a hero. When a man gets wounded or a leg blown off he’s a even bigger hero and rightfully so. Yet then he’s discharged and apply’s for wheelchairs, handles in his shower and a pension and he’s suddenly a blood sucking pariah. When a woman has a family and buys a house she’s the Australian/American/English dream. She has a baby with Downs Syndrome or Spina Bifida and gives up work to care of her baby full time and spend 25 hours a day at doctors and all of a sudden politicans stand up in parliament and scream she’s mooching off the system and demand that she get a damn job. Why should my taxes pay for your child, or your healthcare or your disability benefit, they and others ask. 

Life!  As long as you don’t dare be one the few and the brave who wear a uniform to guarantee it.  liberty! As long as you didn’t get half blown away fighting for it while in some foreign country in service of our country. The pursuit of happiness ? As long as no one you love gets sick or dares ask for help to stay happy.

To our elected officials where ever you may be, The Houses of Parliament where you play out your pantomines in are built by the taxes of the very people you choose to oppress, and deny the very basic of medical needs to. Your freedom to be a politician is guaranteed by the blood of fallen patriots, and your ability to pursue happiness is paid for by the jobs we vote you into.  So for you to dare for one second, to suggest that any of the citizens of the countries you swear a oath to protect, support and make prosperous should be denied the least of their most basic needs is hypocrisy at its most basic and treason at its most haneous.

Before you shout out in The House of Commons that a disabled soldier in Sussex is a pariah on the society, or a boy in Boston shouldn’t have a life saving operation remember the old saying “there but for for the grace of God go I.”

 The next time you feel the need to shout in Congress or harumph in The House of Lords, let it be in support of the very people who put you there.  Otherwise you just might find yourself shouting at the unemployment office when you get turned down for food stamps.

You have chosen to obviously disrespect our existence so we shall begin our resistamce.

Licence it, Charge a fee, Make Them Get it Right!

if this emblem Required qualification and a licence fee to display our lives would improve

Well readers yesterday was my birthday. Yay, happy birthday to me. My gorgeous main squeeze did her homework, went online found a vegan restaurant, rang them and asked all the right questions. Questions like,  are you wheelchair accessible? Are you totally vegan (we’ll get to that on another blog chicken and salmon doesn’t make you vegan) and was assured they were accessible and even had a large out door seating area! Great, so I was woken with breakfast in bed and jewellry and then a car service took me to the East Village. An hour doing my favorite thing, rolling around the Union Square Green Markets then off to a restaurant called Atlas on 2nd between 4th and 5th. When we get there the front looked like a collection of broken kitchen chairs, the whole cafe (definitely not a restaurnt) was 12 foot wide and even able bodied people had to turn sideways to get in. They fit four table on one side of the plance and another four on the other side so that people placing orders ended up taking up any remaining space. Okay, you get the picture .. its tiny. The staff saw me, didn’t move because they didn’t care. On the other hand, a burly middle aged customer when he saw my partner starting to try and find a way to get us in, opened the other side of the double doors, and two other customers helped by lifting my table in the air over my head so that I could get in. They cared more than the folks that were paid too. Still no staff in sight to help. I ended up being shoved against a wall unable to move while we were there and yet on the door was the wheelchair emblem and the staff proclaimed on the phone previously how wheelchair friendly they were. If this was a apartment it would be a small studio — maybe 12 ft wide by 20 feet long. Sure its was cute and very East Villagey… but NOT wheelchair friendly. Realy, then the disgusting excuse for a meal came wrapped in paper with a few crisps on the plate and when we asked for the manager we were screamed at and treated like shit. When told that we had called in advance he lied to us that he never claimed accessibility. Luckily, we ended up at a amazing indian restaurant on 6th st called Banjara and had a amazing meal with great service. They come complete with ramps and a fully wheelchair accessible bathroom and vegan/veggie choices on the menu. The waiter made the experience better by his professionism and willingness to do whatever he could to show us a good time.

Then we went for coffee on the corner of 2nd ave and E. 7th Street — another wheelchair sticker on the door and on the toilet door. The place also had a ramp to the counter but thats where the accessibility stopped.  I asked if the toilets were accessible and I was cheerfully assured they were. Alarm bells rang when my chair was only 1 inch narrower than the passage to said toilets. It went 4 feet, turned right then went 6 feet and turned left. Ultimately I stopped at a pile of boxes blocking a door only two thirds as wide as my chair but it had a sticker on the door showing a wheelchair. When the door was opened the room was as wide as the commode not an inch more. Someone, anyone .. tell me how that space qualifies as wheelchair accessible. Its so tiny you have to step outside to change your mind. 

Really New York!  I have a history of over 30 years in restaurants and hotels.  I have to pass building code to paint and finish construction. I have to pass health code to cook. I have to jump through hoops to sell liqour and rightfully so. I need to know what I’m doing to do these things and the pay off for doing them right is money and hopefully plenty of it. On top of that are happy customers who come back and tell friends to come to my bar or restaurant. It’s my pay off for hard work and doing it right. Yet when you can buy a sticker from a hardware store off the shelf right next to the one that says BEWARE OF  DOG or NO JUNK MAIL for $1.99  you only get $1.99 worth of thought put in.  We get $1.99 worth of consideration but in the mean time you get my money even if only once. In a town of 12 million you can scam a lot of disabled people just once and make a fortune.
If I could get in front of City Hall and have them listen to me for 5 minutes, one of the thing I would convey is for them to make the right to display a disability access sticker cost and force businesses to put up a bond for the right to do so. It might discourage some but then we probably don’t really want to give them our custom anyway. We’re not your piggy bank of fiscal suckers we’re hard working people with mortgages, kids, car loans and health insurance and the few times we might get the chance to pool a few bucks and go out all we ask is a seat that we don’t need to be lowered into by the teamsters and a toilet we don’t need the skills of Cirque de Soleil to use. Is that really to much to ask?

So Your in a Wheelchair — What Do You Want?

I was watching ABC 7 news here in NYC last night and they reported on a disabled topic and they asked if anyone had similar experiences to contact them so I did. The intern that answered heard my story and replied “so your in a wheelchair, big deal what do you expect from the world?”

The interns answer got me thinking. First I thought about the inane nature of his comment when it was that very station that requested stories in this vane, then I got to thinking And Equality came to mind. What does equality mean to the disabled? It means being able to know that if I pay the same fare for subway that every elevator works, after all you the upright public are guaranteed a staircase, a walkway and yet I’m  charged the same fare and I roll the dice every time I start a journey because out of 420 subway stations less than17% have working elevators on any day.

What does equality mean? It means that when I ask “are you accessible” and based on that answer I book a special meal at your restaurant, I don’t consider accessibility having to enter via the alley past the dumpster through the kitchen. My bill at the end of the night isn’t reduced so why should  my enjoyment be?

When you walk down the street your not suddenly thrown through the air and a $1,000 worth of damage done to your body. Right? At least thats a safe-ish bet. Most cities simply look at streets and access ramps and ask themselves can someone safely walk here or does it meet basic code, however they aren’t considering life from a different vantage point.. one in a chair. For example, just 2 days ago I hit a crack so large I was thrown out of my chair into a wrought iron railing, that my partner would have never have had a problem with because safety looks different when your three foot higher and don’t have wheels under your ass.

I know you think this sounds like the shopping list of a disgruntled disabled person. Well it’s far from that.  You see, if when these problems were reported I got a honest reply, I would be less upset  but when I get told “go away we meet code” or “I walk down that street and I have no problem” or my favorite “no one has ever complained about that before,” when the people who make a difference do the bare legal minimium and then hide behind it or make inane judgement calls even when speaking to the disabled that “they can walk down the street” it shows that we are not only being treated poorly, we are being completely ignored.Each year  Millions Are dished out to organizations to meet the needs of the disabled, every time some public buildings project is announced someone is paid seven figures to advise on disabled needs but if your in a wheelchair in NYC you eventually realise the place all those studies end up is not in front of anyone who has the job of implementing the results. More likely they can be found on a roll in the executive washrooms.

The answer is simple, if I don’t stay in a hotel I don’t pay.  If I don’t go to the theatre, I’m not charged admission. So New York  City if you don’t include us, if you don’t consider us then don’t expect our cheque. In the last year, broken pavements have cost me over a thousand dollars in wheelchair repairs and eventually a totally new chair costing more than most Toyotas, so pay attention to detail or pay us back. We, the disabled community are sick of being the taxation slot machine of the able bodied community. Some of us only have one arm, if you want to pull it at least give us the chance of winning.

Respect our existance or expect our resistance.