Canada: Starbucks investigating after Sask. employee who complained about sexual harassment was fired - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Starbucks investigating after Sask. employee who complained about sexual harassment was fired

21:10  21 november  2019
21:10  21 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A file photo of a Starbucks cup © Getty A file photo of a Starbucks cup

WARNING: This story contains language some readers may find offensive

Sarah Franklin said she felt uneasy working alongside a colleague who allegedly sexually harassed her multiple times.

Franklin, who is 19, worked as a shift-supervisor at a Starbucks in Swift Current, Sask.

She said an employee made multiple "super inappropriate" comments, such as references to her "getting on her knees," having "no problem getting sticky" or suggesting her bruises resulted from a "threesome."

Franklin said she went to her local — and then district — leadership about the employee allegedly responsible for the harassment, questioning why nothing could be done. She said she was fired and escorted out of the shop the same day.

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Franklin said she was told that she was being "separated from the company" effective immediately. She said she was not given a reason in writing for the termination, but believes she was fired for drawing attention the alleged sexual harasser.  

On Monday, a spokesperson for Starbucks said "we have been made aware of the allegations. We're taking them very seriously and have launched an internal investigation." 

The company said it cannot comment on the reason for Franklin's dismissal because of privacy concerns. 

The man accused of the harassment has declined to comment. 

Franklin said the inappropriate comments began after a manager went on leave. She said she wasn't the only person affected.

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Franklin said it seemed the accused harasser could "get away with things because he didn't actually have real management." 

When called out,  "he would say 'you're just being over dramatic. You can't take a joke,'" she said.

"It was not a joke. It was disgusting."

Franklin believes she took appropriate action, first by asking not to be scheduled with him, then approaching local management and then the district manager. 

"Nothing was done."

She said she wasn't alone in her discomfort. 

"I was like okay, why is he still working here? Multiple people are complaining."

Franklin said she felt awkward and disgusting at work and began to outwardly express her frustration.

"I started getting mean, because no one was going to do anything. I would tell him to stop talking to me, the moment he tried," she said. 

Situation posted on Youtube 

Franklin was fired last week.

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After losing her job, she felt like she had nothing more to lose so she decided to go public, she said.

Calli Moreau-Simpson, a friend and former colleague who still works at Starbucks, suggested they use social media.  Moreau-Simpson, 17, said the same alleged harasser once interjected into a conversation to ask if someone had  "shoved a flute up her vagina." 

"It just makes me so uncomfortable." 

Moreau-Simpson said the behaviour carried on with her colleagues so she went to management. She said she believes management "had a talk with him," but that she still dreaded going to work because the situation didn't improve. 

Moreau-Simpson posted a video about the incident to YouTube. It had more than 40,000 views in less than a week.

"I just thought maybe if I can get more people on my side... eventually it would be handled," she said. 

Moreau-Simpson said she has since been accused of being unprofessional by people who have watched the video. 

"They should be more concerned about this going on in the first place and that it got this far." 

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Starbucks investigating

Starbucks has confirmed that an investigation was opened after the video surfaced on YouTube. On Wednesday, it confirmed that procedures were not properly followed when the initial complaints surfaced. 

"Local leadership investigated the complaints when they first came to light, but we've since learned our internal company procedures were not followed," a spokesperson for Starbucks Canada said in an emailed statement. 

"We have reopened the investigation and are working through the appropriate steps to ensure this situation, and any future complaints, will be handled properly going forward." 

Moreau-Simpson said she wants management in all workplaces to take complaints seriously. 

"We need to actually take action so people feel safe going to work."

Franklin said she will continue to speak out about her experience. 

"Other girls in the workplace are feeling this way and they're scared to come forward."

The spokesperson for Starbucks says the company encourages people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe to come forward. 

"In those instances where partners don't want to speak with their manager or choose to remain anonymous, we have processes in place that allow them to provide details over phone or online," she said. "We have an anti-retaliation policy to avoid any fear of speaking up." 

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