A former Starbucks employee has filed a lawsuit against the chain for allegedly firing him and a co-worker after they fought off two robbers.
The incident took place at a Starbucks in Missouri on Dec. 17th when two men, Joshua Noe, 37, and Marquise Porter-Doyle, 35 attempted to rob the place, BPR reports.
“I thought I was gonna die that day. They walked in, announced that it was a robbery. They started going up to people and frisking them for stuff,” Michael Harris, 20, who was working at the drive-through told local station KSDK.
Harris, along with his coworker, Devin Jones-Ransom, ended up fighting back against the robbers after realizing that one of them tried to pistol whip Harris over the head with what turned out to be a fake gun.
“The trigger for it busted off,” Harris noted.
As reported by the Riverfront Times, “During the fight, police allege Noe and Porter-Doyle each punched one of the victims in the face.”
“Even so, a police incident summary says the people in the Starbucks were able to subdue and detain Noe. Porter-Doyle fled before police arrived, but officers found him a short time later,” the paper reported.
Despite successfully fending off the would-be robbers, Starbucks informed Harris that he has been terminated from the company.
“They terminated me,” he told KSDK. “They didn’t really give me a reason why I was terminated. They just told me I was, and I just had to accept it.”
Both Harris and his attorney, Ryan Krupp, are searching for answers.
“They didn’t create the dangerous scenario — they just did what they were supposed to do in that scenario,” Krupp said to the station.
“It happens fast. There’s no way that an individual can be faced with danger, attempted potential death of themselves or another, and then once they’ve been hit or downed, that they cannot defend themselves,” he continued.
“It’s a fundamental principle of the law of this nation and the law of this state that when faced with a life-or-death scenario, you are afforded the ability to defend yourself,” attorney Robert Thomas Topping added.
In a statement to KSDK, Starbucks explained that Harris and his co-worker failed to follow a policy in which employees are to de-escalate and comply with perpetrators.
“The safety and wellbeing of our partners (employees) and customers is always our first concern. All partners are expected to follow our carefully crafted protocols to ensure the safety of customers and partners during these situations,” the company said.
I hope they get every penny @Starbucks has. This is the biggest travesty I’ve ever heard of…. You can’t even defend your own life while at work? even if you been smashed in the head? What is wrong with our country?
— Hans Gruber the Great (@f__pittman) January 27, 2024
@starbucks takes away his livelihood for defending himself in a life or death situation. I’m boycotting @starbucks over this. Spread the word, @starbucks would be fine with having all their employees killed during armed robbery
— IVY (@HOTSTOCKPICKSG) January 27, 2024
“At the time of hire and once a year thereafter, all partners go through de-escalation training. Part of that training includes armed robbery scenarios where partners are asked to comply with demands and to avoid doing or saying anything that can escalate the situation,” it continued.
Harris told the New York Post that he is now struggling to pay off his college tuition now that he is unemployed.
“That job was helping me pay for college,” he said. “I just don’t understand it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Image credit: ©Szymon12455/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.