Twitter, GoFundMe

Starbucks 'Karen' Thinks She Deserves Half Of $100,000 Given To Barista She Abused

By now, it's no secret that some people are willing to wear masks to slow down the spread of disease and some aren't. Those who are opposed are passionate about not wearing masks, and we've seen them press the issue with companies trying to keep their employees and customers safe many times.

One young barista at Starbucks just trying to do his job to the best of his ability has found himself at the center of an online firestorm thanks to a customer who threw a fit over the store's mask policy and posted on Facebook about it. And just when he thought he might be done with her, she's coming back for more.

To recap, it was all a surreal experience.

Unsplash | TR

As The New York Times reported, when Gilles approached the cash register to put her order in, barista Lenin Gutierrez asked her if she had a mask to wear. "No, I don't need one," she replied.

In a Facebook post, Gutierrez said she started cursing at him and called everyone wearing a mask "sheep," and then stormed out. She returned a few minutes later, asked for his name, took his picture, and told him she'd be calling head office. A bystander caught it all on video.

Gilles made her own Facebook post about the exchange as well.


She posted the pic she took of Gutierrez, writing "Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

While Gilles' post did ring up 110,000 reactions, 133,000 comments, and 49,000 shares, it also became a rallying point for Gutierrez' friends and fans.

GoFundMe | Bradley Tanzman

They started a GoFundMe campaign to allow people around the country to "tip" Gutierrez and support the berated barista.

Gilles' post has since been deleted, and she has become known online as the "Starbucks Karen."

However, the matter didn't end when it went online.


The GoFundMe campaign started out quite modestly. The organizer, Matt Cowan, told KGTV that he didn't expect much from it. "I set it at $1,000 thinking that was a reach but we would be lucky if we hit like $250 and when we hit $100 I was overwhelmed by that," he said.

Gutierrez' actions seemed to have struck a chord, however, because donations went well beyond $1,000. At the most recent count, people have donated a total of $105,450.

Gutierrez says he has some plans for that money.


He wants to use it to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional dancer and to teach dance to kids, a passion of his that he used his Starbucks job to support.

"That’s all I really want to do — to just be able to show dance to others and show them how much I love it and how much it affected me," he said in his Facebook video.

"And if I can show that to someone else, that would be amazing and change their life like it changed mine."

GoFundMe | Matt Cowan

He has also indicated on the GoFundMe page that he plans to donate some of the money to charities in his community.

However, Gilles says she deserves a cut of the cash too.

And not just a cut - Gilles says she deserves at least half of Gutierrez' tips "because they're using me to get it."

"They’re using my name, they’re using my face, and they’re slandering me," she told The New York Times.

She has said in other interviews that she was "denied" and "discriminated against" for not wearing a mask, and that she feels "frustrated."

Reddit | tvinsider7465, FOX Broadcasting Company

NBC San Diego reported that Gilles is considering filing a lawsuit for defamation and slander to get a portion of Gutierrez' tip money.

Gutierrez, meanwhile, was just trying to comply with both store and county policies.

Unsplash | Jiawei Zhao

San Diego County, where the Starbucks in which the exchange occurred is located, has required masks in many public areas since May 1.

Starbucks issued a statement regarding the incident, saying "We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores. We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores."

h/t: The New York Times, KGTV