When a Starbucks customer attacked a San Diego barista on social media, claiming he refused to serve her because she wasn't wearing a face mask, he received more than $100,000 in GoFundMe donations from sympathizers.
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Now, she wants half the cash.
Amber Lynn Gilles, dubbed a "Karen" by critics on social media, claimed on Facebook last month that she was refused service by Lenin Gutierrez for going against the county’s and store's coronavirus guidelines. She told Fox4 that she was unable to wear the mask due to underlying health conditions.
“It was discrimination, and everybody is OK with it and enabling and rewarding that behavior,” said Gilles.
Gutierrez said that when Gilles entered the store on June 22, he asked if she had a mask with her, according to an account he posted on Facebook days later.
Before he could explain the company's policy, Gilles reportedly cut him off saying she didn't need one and cursed at him before leaving, Gutierrez said. She later returned, asked for his name, took his picture, which she later posted on Facebook, and threatened to call the chain's corporate office, he added.
"Meet lenen (sic) from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause (sic) I'm not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption," Gilles wrote alongside a picture she had taken of Gutierrez.
She told Fox4 she deserves an apology and compensation: "I’ve been discriminated against; I’m the one who’s sick.”
Numerous health complications would occur if she put on a mask, Gilles said.
“I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat," she told the outlet. "I do have asthma as well, and I do get mask-acne. So there’s several things going on and not only that, but it doesn’t even work.”
She handed the outlet two medical documents, one from a pelvic exam from 2015 and another from a chiropractor, to show she was exempt from San Diego County's mandate that all residents 2 years of age or older wear masks in public settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Residents with a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are exempt, according to the policy.
The note from the chiropractor read: “Amber has underlying breath conditions that prevent her from wearing a mask or any type of facial covering whatsoever. Please contact me if have any questions," according to Fox4, which obtained a copy of the note.
While chiropractors are licensed, they don't hold medical degrees and cannot prescribe medication.
When Gilles was questioned about why the chiropractor's note qualified her for an exemption, she said, “because they are dedicated to providing non-invasive personalized care and treatment. They are real doctors.”
Starbucks, for its part, has said that its customers are asked to "follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores."
The GoFundMe page for Gutierrez was organized by Matt Cowan, at that time a stranger, who said he simply wanted to give the barista some tip money.
What he didn't expect was that the funds would surpass his initial goal of $1,000. More than 7,000 donors sent cash to the employee, who now plans to use it in part for his education.
Gilles said she has no plans to apologize; she has spoken with lawyers about her case and started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with legal fees, the outlet reported.