Starbucks Worker Fired After Customer Says He 'Smacked' Her Face with Wet Rag: 'I Was Shocked'
The employee at the Philadelphia Starbucks denies hitting the customer with a wet rag and claims she attacked him
A Starbucks employee in Philadelphia has been fired after a customer claimed he "smacked" her in the face with a wet rag after requesting her order be remade.
The woman, who remains anonymous, recently told local news outlet WCAU that around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, she asked to have her drinks made again after her order was prepared "wrong" and the employee "caught an attitude." She said the barista remade it and "filled my cup halfway with caramel and slammed it on the counter" when finished.
After asking to speak to a manager, the customer alleged that the employee then "took his wet rag, smacked me in my face with it and he swung at me, so we started fighting."
"I was shocked for a second. Then he swung at me so I swung back," she claimed.
The now-former Starbucks employee was identified as Robert Freda, who told WCAU that he acted in self-defense and that he suffered a black eye, contusions and "marks on my body." He said, "If anybody was left with more damage it was me."
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"I waved a wet rag in her face that I had in my hand, not trying to hit her or anything, and she proceeded to jump across the counter swinging at me," alleged Freda. "And at that point my fight-or-flight response kicked in."
WCAU reports that the customer now intends to press charges.
"What he did should not have happened at all. You don't do that at all," the woman said. Meanwhile, Freda told the outlet, "An actual attack was initiated by her."
When reached for comment, a Starbucks spokesperson told PEOPLE Wednesday an investigation found the employee to be at fault.
Spokesperson Reggie Borges said the café is "a place where everyone should feel welcome."
"We've separated the partner [employee] after our initial investigation and connected with the customer, apologized and will be meeting with her in person to make things right," Borges says. "The type of behavior described in this incident is not indicative of the type of dignity and respect we want our partners and customers to show when in our stores."