Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Aizze was the best barista at the Snelling & Selby Starbucks in St. Paul, MN. She knew every regular's drink and could make a latte in 28 seconds. She has 20 MUG awards for her job performance, and was never written up in her two years of service, nor was her till ever ‘over’ or ‘short.’ Her coworkers and customers loved her; they called her 'Aizze' (pronounced 'Ozzie'), short for Azmera. This description is in the past tense because Starbucks wrongfully fired Aizze on July 8, 2009. Starbucks management accused her of theft, although they themselves ADMIT that they have no video or other evidence to support their accusation.
Adding insult to injury, Saint Paul District Manager Claire Gallagher took advantage of Aizze’s limited English abilities and bullied and manipulated her into signing a promissory note saying she would pay Starbucks the arbitrarily- determined amount of $1200. Acting through the notoriously anti-worker law firm Olonoff, Asen & Serebro,. LLP, Starbucks has since sent Aizze a letter threatening to send their baseless claim to a collections agency.
Azmera is not a thief. An immigrant from Ethiopia, Azmera has been a citizen of the U.S. for the past ten years. She has worked at Starbucks for the past two years. Together with her husband, a Taxi driver, Azmera is the proud mother of three young children. Aizze is an honest, deeply religious woman who loves her job and works hard to care for her family.
How did this happen?
On July 8, 2009, Aizze was told to sit in the back room at the end of her shift, alone with St. Paul District Manager Claire Gallagher. For almost two hours, she was not allowed to leave, and no other workers were allowed to enter. The DM made a conference call with “Partner & Asset Protection” Manager Chris Vanderhoof and together they began to interrogate Aizze. When Aizze informed her interrogators that she did not understand what they were saying, they just repeated the same words over and over. Aizze was not offered an interpreter. She was told that if she didn't sign the promissory note, they would call the police and have her arrested. Thinking of her children, she signed the paper. Her interrogators told her flatly that they had no proof or video of her stealing money, yet they accused her of theft. Aizze never stole. If there was change someone didn’t want from a transaction, Aizze put it in the tip jar, but she never, ever stole.
We can only speculate on why Aizze was targeted, but one thing is clear: Starbucks thinks they can get away with victimizing her because she is an immigrant and a non-native English speaker.
What You Can Do To Help
We all have a responsibility to stand up for the most vulnerable amongst us. We will not sit idly by while Starbucks management victimizes one who has come to this country seeking a better life. We demand immediate reinstatement, the immediate nullification of the promissory note, and an apology to Aizze. Justice must be done for Aizze and all workers.
DEMAND JUSTICE, Call:
Regional Vice President SUMI GOSH at 312-342-8701
Regional Director DIMITRI HATZIGEORGIOU at 312-731-8909
MAKE A DONATION:
Azmera has been out of work for over a month. Please consider making a donation so that she can pay bills and keep up the fight for justice. You can donate money to Aizze directly through a Paypal Account by clicking here.