Starbucks apologizes to Sask. employees for how it handled harassment complaints

WARNING: This story contains language some readers may find offensive

Coffee giant Starbucks has apologized to employees in Swift Current, Sask., who felt their complaints about alleged harrassment by a co-worker were not address appropriately by local management, according to a spokesperson.

Last week, two women spoke on social media and with CBC News about how local leadership and district managers responded to complaints of alleged sexual harassment.

Starbucks confirmed it had launched a new investigation after the concerns went viral and said that procedures had not been properly followed when the initial complaints surfaced. 

The employee who was "implicated in the harassment allegations is no longer working with Starbucks," spokesperson Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick confirmed Monday. 

"We've apologized to everyone involved for how these complaints were handled and we're grateful we had the opportunity to correct that," she said in an emailed statement. 

Löwenborg-Frick said the company reminded partners across Canada of, "the resources and processes available to report concerns, and of our code of conduct."

Teens went public

Last week, former shift supervisor Sarah Franklin, 19, spoke with CBC about having lost her job after complaining about harrassment. She felt that she was terminated because she was vocal about the situation. 

She said a co-worker had allegedly made multiple "super inappropriate" comments about her. For example, she said comments involved her "getting on her knees," having "no problem getting sticky" or suggesting bruises on her arms resulted from a "threesome."  

Franklin said she went to her local — and then district — leadership about the employee allegedly responsible for the harassment, but that nothing was done.

Starbucks Canada

The company maintains that Franklin's termination was "unrelated to her complaint."    

Her colleague Calli Moreau-Simpson, 17, created the Youtube videos that raised concerns about what was going on. She said that she, too, endured harassment.

She said the employee allegedly made a comment about shoving a flute up Moreau-Simpson's vagina. She said the situation made her extremely uncomfortable and that she dreaded going to work. 

Both teenagers said they wanted to speak out because they wanted management to take complaints seriously. Furthermore, they said they wanted to speak on behalf of others in the workplace who didn't feel comfortable. 

Löwenborg-Frick said "any activity that makes a partner uncomfortable has no place at Starbucks." 

She said a "senior leader" has been working at the store since last week, "re-establishing proper processes to create a sustained positive environment in that store."