Starbucks barista 'abused' by customer refusing to wear face mask gets $75,000 in donations

28 June 2020, 12:40 | Updated: 28 June 2020, 15:58

A barista who says he was verbally abused by a customer refusing to wear a mask can now pursue his dream of being a dancer after well-wishers donated more than $75,000 (£61,000).

Lenin Gutierrez was working at a Starbucks in San Diego when he asked the customer, Amber Lynn Gilles, if she had a face covering.

In a video on Facebook, Mr Gutierrez said Ms Gilles replied: "No, I don't need one."

Mr Gutierrez was going to show her the coffee chain's policy on the subject, but instead of listening she "started cursing up a storm", called people "sheep" and left, he said.

She came back a few minutes later, Mr Gutierrez added, asked for his name and took a picture of him before saying she was "calling corporate and started cursing some more".

After she left again, Mr Gutierrez thought "that was going to be the end of it".

Subsequently, however, Ms Gilles posted the picture she had taken of Mr Gutierrez on Facebook with the caption: "Meet lenen (sic) 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."

Ms Gilles told NBC7 in San Diego that she had not harassed anybody, and that she has received death threats as a result of the incident.

"I never threatened him, I just called him out on his actions," she said, adding that she felt "denied and discriminated against".

"I'm frustrated," she added. "It starts with coffee but it ends with mandatory digital certificates."

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for Mr Gutierrez's "honourable effort standing his ground".

Mr Gutierrez says he has been working at Starbucks as a way of funding his real passion - dance.

He has been teaching children, hoping to "change their life the way (dance) changed mine".

In his video, he says "all the love and support" has been "so helpful", adding he is shocked that something that only lasted a few minutes could "get so big".

The donations will help make his dreams "a thing now", he says, adding: "Thank you so much."