Chinese Woman Mistreated by Queens Dunkin’ Donuts for Her Accent

The Dunkin’ Donuts located at 100-05 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, where the incident took place. (Photo by Shushan Yu via World Journal)

The Dunkin’ Donuts located at 100-05 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, where the incident took place. (Photo by Shushan Yu via World Journal)

When Ms. Shih, who is Chinese, walked into a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Queens, she wanted to order something sweet. But an employee there served her with bias and mistreatment. All because of her inadequate English. Some customers chimed in to make things worse. They called her an illegal immigrant who doesn’t pay taxes. The manager of the shop apologized only when Ms. Shih wrote about her experience on social media. And the manager also said the employee might be fired. 

The employee in question. (Photo by Shih via Facebook)

The employee in question. (Photo by Shih via Facebook)

At 3:38 p.m. on May 30, Ms. Shih went in to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills with her 1-year-old son and his nanny. She ordered a “glazed chocolate donut.” Yaibur R., the shop employee who served her, asked her to say the full name of the donut. Ms. Shih pointed to the particular product on the shelf and said in accented English that she wanted the “glazed chocolate donut.” Yaibur appeared as if he didn’t understand. “What? What are you saying?” Ms. Shih again pointed to the donut she tried to order and repeated what she said. But Yaibur said: “You have to say the whole name of the donut.” 

Ms. Shih was not happy. “Why should I say the whole name. You already know what I want. You just want to make fun of me.” But Yaibur insisted he had to hear the whole name of the donut from Ms. Shih. “He said you just have to say it in order to order it,” she wrote. Ms. Shih wanted to see the manager. But Yaibur said that the manager was not at work that day. “‘You think he will be here all the time. He has home. Today is holiday. He has to go home,'” she wrote. When Ms. Shih asked Yaibur his name, he pointed to the name tag on his chest and said: “Do you know how to say it?”

The customer who tried to take Shih’s phone. (Photo by Shih via Facebook)

The customer who tried to take Shih’s phone. (Photo by Shih via Facebook)

After her requests of seeing the manager were repeatedly ignored, Ms. Shih pulled out her cellphone and started to record the scene. Yaibur immediately went quiet. A customer named Thomas Tambini who stood behind Ms. Shih and had been complaining that the incident was delaying his order now tried to extend his arm to Ms. Shih. He threatened to grab her cellphone and throw it out of the window. He also called Ms. Shih an illegal immigrant who doesn’t pay taxes and, therefore, drives up taxes for everyone else.

When Ms. Shih was calling 911 with her phone, Tambini also pulled out his own cell phone to call 911. Shih wrote on Facebook: “He even call the police & tell them that i am just a Chinese lady who doesn’t like the Dunkin personnal’s attitude.”

After she sent her baby and the nanny back home, Ms. Shih went to the 112th police precinct to make a complaint. But she was told because there was no violence or injuries, there was nothing the police could do. When she went back home, Ms. Shih tweeted about her experience on Twitter. Within two hours, she got a few hundred comments. By the evening of May 31, Ms. Shih’s post had been retweeted more than 6,000 times and garnered more than 9,200 “likes.”

(…)

Some netizens dug out the name of the white customer who also played a role in this ugly show based on the photo Ms. Shih posted. And he was asked to apologize too.

Mohid, the manager of the shop, confirmed the incident on May 31 to this reporter. “I don’t know why that particular employee behaved that way. But our shop always believes the customer is God,” he said. He presented the records of customer reviews which show customers have been giving high marks to the shop all the time. “But sometimes there are one or two people whose behavior is out of control,” Mohid said. He said Yaibur, the employee who caused the incident, has been suspended. “Our general company will deal with it. I think he’ll be fired,” Mohid said.

Mohid also called Ms. Shih to apologize and insisted on giving a gift card to her as compensation. 

“I am not a person who likes to complain. But when a shop employee mistreated me because of my accent, and another customer called me an illegal immigrant who pays no taxes, I thought they set a bad example to my kid and the nanny. That’s why I held my ground firmly that day,” said Ms. Shih. “If we Asians always keep silent when we are discriminated, no one will respect us.”

She said she’s not ruled out making a complaint to the police against Tambini for harassment.

Update: A story in the World Journal that appeared on June 2 said Ms. Shih’s experience has angered many Asians. Some are planning to hold a protest in front of the shop, which confirmed on June 1 that the employee has been fired.

2 Comments

  1. Scottie Lutz says:

    I go to Dunkin Donuts in Smithfield, North Carolina everyday and most of the employees are very friendly. They try very hard to be accommodating to everyone. Would recommend Dunkin Donuts over other places.

  2. Here comes a Lawsuit now DD will have to pay this women $$$$$$$$ granted the employee & customer were D-bags and the employee should be fired the employee looks like he just came here from the banana boat from India himself so should of been a little more friendly especially that she had a new born baby.

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