I know you’ve heard this before, but just so we’re all clear: wear a fucking mask, people. It’s truly not that big of a deal. I wear one at work any time I am not seated in my office. It’s crazy easy and you can even get a little fun out of it by wearing a personalized one like our Techdirt masks.
But, if you’re not going to wear a mask, don’t also be an insufferable jerk like Amber Gilles. Amber got really mad when a Starbucks barista named Lenin Gutierrez refused to serve her because she wasn’t in a mask. She decided to take a picture of Gutierrez and post it on Facebook, complaining about it. When the internet saw the post, it did its thing.
A stranger in Orange County, Matt Cowan, said he wanted to donate a few dollars to the barista in tip money, so he started a GoFundMe. As the photo on Facebook filled with hundreds of thousands of interactions and comments from people supporting the barista, the tip money eventually hit more than $100,000 to be donated to the barista. Lenin said he plans to use that money to further his education and also follow his dreams of dancing.
It should have ended there: a nice little story about the kindness of strangers responding to one self-important dolt. But Amber Gilles claims that the real reason she refused to wear the mask is because medical conditions exempt her from the requirement. I’d normally point out that medical exemptions don’t necessarily remove a business’ right to refuse service by policy, but instead I think I’ll give you the deets on Gilles’ proof of her condition.
She went on to describe the symptoms that prevent her from wearing a mask, saying “One of them I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat. And 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 provided KGTV with two documents to prove her medical exemption. One is a pelvic exam from 2015 with results that say “probable exophytic fibroid arising from the anterior wall of the uterus measuring 2.9 cm size,” and “simple 2.5 cm left ovarian cyst.” A second piece of paper is a handwritten note with letterhead from a San Diego chiropractor who she asked not be named. The handwritten note reads “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.”
I shouldn’t have had to do this, but the Mayo Clinic’s list of symptoms for uterine fibroids includes absolutely nothing about breathing. And no offense to chiropractors out there, but I somehow don’t think your scribbles mean Starbucks can’t require a mask to be serviced.
But the real upshot of all of this is that Gilles would like half of that GoFundMe money, please.
Gilles said she now wants half of that money.
“It was discrimination and everybody is OK with it and enabling and rewarding that behavior,” said Gilles.
That’s obviously not how any of this works. She could consider suing Starbucks, but she’d lose. Suing an employee for sticking to company policy doesn’t somehow mean you get half of a gift given to him by strangers. Also, lawyers are expensive, but Gilles has a plan for that.
Gilles said she’s spoken to a few lawyers about taking her case for getting half of the money but said they’re all expensive so she started her own GoFundMe to try to raise money.
Here’s hoping that the Starbucks barista is going to ask for half that money, too. It’s like a crowdfunding Inception!
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