Starbucks Employee Fired After Allegedly Hitting Customer In Face With Wet Rag

by Julie Scagell
Robert Alexander/Getty

The two involved each claim the other was at fault

A fight broke out in a Philadelphia Starbucksnot over a mask (finally) — but because of an incorrect coffee order.

The customer, who hasn’t revealed her identity, told NBC10 the situation escalated after she received an incorrect order and asked the barista to remake it for her. “They were made wrong so I asked him to remake it and he caught an attitude,” she said. “When he remade it he had an attitude about it. Filled my cup halfway with caramel and slammed it on the counter.”

The woman immediately asked to speak with the manager but the employees told her there was no one available to help her. That’s when she said a male employee (it’s unknown if this is the same person who “had an attitude” and slammed her coffee down) hit her in the face with a wet rag.

“He took his wet rag, smacked me in my face with it and he swung at me,” she explained. “So we started fighting. I was shocked for a second. Then he swung at me so I swung back.”

But, as they say, there are two sides to every story. The employee, identified as Robert Freda, said the situation that transpired was actually the other way around. Not only does he deny hitting the woman with the rag, he told NBC10: “I have a black eye. I have contusions here. Marks on my body here. If anybody was left with more damage it was me.”

He continued: “I waved a wet rag in her face that I had in my hand. Not trying to hit her or anything and she proceeded to jump across the counter swinging at me. And at that point my fight or flight response kicked in.”

A Starbucks spokesperson responded to the reports, telling Business Insider: “Starbucks is a place where everyone should feel welcome. We’ve separated the partner (employee) after our initial investigation and connected with the customer, apologized and will be meeting with her in person to make things right. The type of behavior described in this incident is not indicative of the type of dignity and respect we want our partners and customers to show when in our stores.”

Freda also explained that, while he was sorry for how the situation went down, he was simply trying to defend himself from an angry customer. “An actual attack was initiated by her,” he said.

While Starbucks said they’re not releasing the video of the incident that occurred, it did decide to terminate Freda’s employment.

The customer, however, will be filing charges against Freda. “What he did should not have happened at all,” she said. “You don’t do that at all.”