Starbucks is coming under fire for terminating two of its employees at a St. Louis, Missouri, location after the individual confronted two armed robbers who demanded cash from the register.
That employee—Michael Harris—is now suing the coffee company for wrongful termination.
"I thought I was gonna die that day, Harris recalled of the December incident. “They walked in, announced that it was a robbery.”
"They started going up to people and frisking them for stuff and we started to fight back against them,” he told KSDK.
He was then pistol whipped by one of the robbers who wanted cash from the register but it was then that his coworker realized the gun was fake.
"The trigger for it busted off and that's when we noticed and started to fight back,” Harris said, though he was careful about escalating the situation unsure of whether they had a real gun with them.
One of the robbers ran off but Harris and another employee were able to restrain the second individual until police arrived.
While their actions were hailed as heroic, Starbucks apparently didn’t see it that way, firing the employees weeks later.
"They didn't create the dangerous scenario. They just did what they were supposed to do in that scenario. 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,” Attorney Ryan Krupp said.
"It's a fundamental principal 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. (KSDK)
Starbucks’ training on armed robberies explains that employees should “comply with demands and … avoid doing or saying anything that can escalate the situation.”
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 told KSDK.