Starbucks Staffer: I Was Fired For Turning Off WiFi To Stop People From Viewing Porn

Over at StarbucksGossip, they have a letter from a now-former employee at the coffee chain, who claims he was given the boot from his java-dispensing job because he turned off the in-store free WiFi in an effort to stop customers from looking at porn.

After working at the ‘Bucks for three years, the employee says he was axed on Aug. 29:

Two days prior, a number of men had been using Starbucks’ new free Wi-Fi to watch pornography while customers, some of them children, could see and hear. In order to verify whether or not it was within his power as a Starbucks employee to pull the plug and after a number of complaints from customers, [he] went through all the steps, asking supervisors, calling managers, and even looking through the employee handbook (which not only said nothing about this act being against policy but actually explained how to do it) before cutting the public Wi-Fi… What he did was not against policy.

The StarbucksGossip editor who posted the letter chides the former employee for turning off the WiFi, saying he should just “tell the customers to stop viewing porn, or leave the store — now!”

If you were working at Starbucks how would you have resolved the situation if you saw people openly surfing the web for porn? And is the company in the right if, as he claims, they fired him for turning off the WiFi?

This isn’t the right way to deal with porn-surfing Starbucks customers….. [StarbucksGossip.com]

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  1. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Unfortunately, if what they’re viewing affects your sensibilities – you don’t have the right to assume control over the entire locations internet and remove it. Sorry. Ask them to leave, and then call the cops to have them escorted out. (disturbing the peace, or even Vagrancy)

    “who claims he was given the boot from his java-dispensing job because he turned off the in-store free WiFi in an effort to stop customers from looking at porn.”

    • RandomHookup says:

      Trespassing is easy enough to use in this case — we asked you to leave (didn’t have to be pr0n – could have been loud music) and you didn’t.

      • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

        he was the default local sysadmin for all intents and purposes. if the customer was sending out viruses to the local network he would have the same responsibility.

        -100 starbucks.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Did you forget about laws concerning “contributing to the delinquency of a minor?” I think that if you are viewing pornography in front of a child, there are penalties for that. Is it better that the employee turn off the router or call the police?

      • Dre' says:

        He should have asked them to leave & then called the police if they didn’t.

        Wi-FI On = Money for $tarbucks

      • Extractor says:

        Then watching dubious material should be prohibited on a sign and that failure to honor this would result in a police call. Just state what constitutes dubious on the sign.

    • pgh9fan1 says:

      If what they’re viewing affected the employee’s sensibilities he/she does have the right to make them stop–not necessarily turning of the WiFi, but certainly telling them to stop. The employee has the right to a workplace free from sexual harassment. Having porn playing at your work is harassment even if it’s by a customer. He/she could sue under sexual harassment laws.

      • knoxblox says:

        He could tell them to stop, but…

        *As employee approaches, customer closes internet window*

        “Could you please stop watching porn in public? If not, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

        “Porn? What porn? I’m just working on my dissertation.”

    • c!tizen says:

      have these people never heard of a web filter? How about openDNS? It’s free… problem solved.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      OK, but that’s not really the issue here. It seems the employee actually asked supervisors and managers and checked the handbook, etc, etc, before going through with this. He basically had permission, did not violate company policy in any way, and still got fired for it.

      It might be an overreaction or the wrong decision in our opinions, but that’s beside the point I think.

    • Anne Marie says:

      Uh, doesn’t a company have control of what’s acceptable for their atmosphere? Stores have “No shirts, no shoes” policies all the time and there’s no right to use their wifi for viewing pornography.

    • LACubsFan says:

      Is that why the lines are so long at starbucks??

      Hey stupid, stop worrying about porn and make me my damn coffee!

      Ask the dudes to stop and if they don’t call the cops…. and then back to making my coffee!

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Not against policy? Oh here we go again. Using a stupid policy book to hide behind what obviously should not be done on the premises; using the company’s free wi-fi for viewing porn. The customer’s doing this are losers and the management failed miserably on this one.

      As for you comment on “viewing affects your sensibilities?”. This is a coffee house, not a porn theatre. I think this employee did exactly what I would have done also; cut off the internet. And cops don’t need to be involved and what is this BS about calling cops every time an issue comes up. Taking control of the situation in this manner was appropriate and kids (or anyone) do NOT need to be viewing this crap.

      Starbucks fails on this one for firing the employee. Why can’t companies stand up for their employee’s these days? But of course the manager that fired her is probably a low-life such as the very customer’s watching porn in the very store he’s managing. No character; no pride. I’d be pissed if I had walked into this particular Starbucks and I saw some loser looking at porn in a business that I spend my hard, earned money at. It’s total BS.

      If I owned a business and I found customer’s doing this, I’d kick their stupid asses out and tell them they’re no longer welcome. I wouldn’t want scum watching porn on my free internet service, at my business, which is essentially on my time. There is a large population of Sunday church families that visit my local Starbucks and I know that if they had seen this, that site would have lost a ton of business.

  2. jason in boston says:

    If it is against corporate rules, unfortunately you have to follow them.

    Dude should have asked the creepers viewing porn to leave. If not, have the manager ask the creepers to leave.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Except it’s not against corporate rules and the OP did ask his supervisors and managers about turning off the wi-fi before he did it.

  3. coffeeculture says:

    I side with starbucks…though i think termination was a little too harsh. Instead of turning off wifi for EVERYONE, the manager should have just kicked the offenders out of the store.

    It’s like if 2 people were being jackasses…do you close the store/stop serving everyone coffee until they leave? This isn’t grade school anymore…shutting off wifi is like avoiding addressing the problem and hoping it goes away.

    Proprietors have a right to kick people out of stores who are being disruptive, I believe.

    • Wei says:

      I see you’re point, but bad analogy. This isn’t closing the store because some customers are being jackasses. This is packing up the free samples table because some jerks keep coming by and grabbing all the samples.

  4. ssevern says:

    The company may have the right to turn off wifi when they want, but is the OP authorized to use his discretion and enforce this at will?

    • nbs2 says:

      It sounds like he tried to get some answer from his bosses, and got nothing. Additionally, it would be reasonable to infer that the inclusion of the process is authorization to turn it off when required.

    • jefeloco says:

      It might not just be a Starbucks decision either. I know that they typically have partnered with service providers to deliver that service; they might have been in violation of a national contract in this case.

      They may have received a few complaints about dirty deeds/pics, but they (and the content provider) probably got a helluva lot more when they couldn’t access their advertised free wi-fi.

      Usually a stern “seriously, can’t this wait until you get home? we have children and the Amish here!” works on these people.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      He didn’t use his discretion. He asked about it. He also did in fact asked the porn viewers to stop and they refused.

    • mmrosek says:

      You don’t even have to RTFA…just the excerpt you scrolled past to immediately post your useless comment.

  5. Talisman says:

    I would have told the customers to stop looking at porn or leave the store.
    If they refused, I would have called the police to have them removed for trespassing and/or contributing to the delinquency of a minor… ie: showing porn to children this might actually qualify as being a sexual predator if convicted.
    If that didn’t work, I would make an announcement to all customers that you will be disabling WiFi due to some customers using it to view porn. I would then point out said customer so they would get embarrassed an leave the store.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Oh that would be so awesome to point to some purv looking at porn in public and humiliate them. It’s sad to think that people (men I’m guessing since they are the biggest viewers of internet porn) can’t even control themselves long enough to go to Starbucks. I also can’t believe that someone would think that it is okay to expose everyone around them to porn without their consent. If I were a customer, I would have said something myself, and I wouldn’t have been quiet about it.

    • theblackdog says:

      The flaw in the second plan is if you have one of those folks that gets off on being humiliated like that.

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    What the customers did is distasteful to say the least, but seeing that the employee was not a manager or had the authority to turn it off, then he should have just informed management and if they don’t do anything about it then C’est la vie.

  7. Rocket says:

    Who watches porn in a Starbucks?

    • aloria says:

      Dude, I have seen people watching porn IN THE LIBRARY. Some people just don’t have boundaries.

      • RioPuerco says:

        I was happily sitting at Long John Silver’s (looking back on the location, this story makes me laugh a bit harder now) with my son a few months back when I looked over to see that a man sitting a few tables away from us was happily reading his gay porn mag. He was reading it with the pages folded back, too, so you could see everything on the previous page that he was *ahem* “reading”. The only thing I could do at that point was laugh.

        Seriously. Who brings their porn mags to eat deep fried fish?

      • SugarMag says:

        so funny you said aloria.
        I saw that just last week – very explicit porn pics being viewed by a 11-12 year old.
        I ratted him out to the library lady, then I was chided by my peers saying I was too meddling and I should mind my business.

        This was in full view of the pre-school book area, plus I do not want to see close up lady parts with various things stuffed in them AT THE LIBRARY.

        • womynist says:

          There have been similar issues in the libraries in my community. The libraries have stated that they don’t block the porn sites due to “free speech”. They also said that if someone is offended when they see another person looking at porn on library computers, then the offended party should move to another computer or leave altogether.

          This was all said after a 67 year old man was caught viewing child pornography on the computers in the library of the University of NH. He was not a student there. It’s nice to know that the libraries don’t give a shit about the fact that viewing porn in a public place creeps people out for the most part. At least the 67 year old was arrested. He shat his pants when the cops busted him too.

          http://www.wmur.com/news/24228933/detail.html

          • GeekChicCanuck says:

            And who’s going to determine what “porn” is for all of the libraries in North America? You?

            • majortom1981 says:

              WOW a little uptight are we? Where did i say i was doing it for all LIbraries of the US. THe librarians decide if its porn or not. READ THE COMMENT before bashing.

              PS naked little boys IS child porn. I am guessing you are a pedophile?

            • SunnyLea says:

              Most libraries have board-determined policies that outline what constitutes as pornography, although, obviously, no such policy can be perfect. There is usually some employee discretion involved, taking in to consideration whether or not any library users have complained. The employee would usually then report to a manager, and a manager can make the final determination.

              Trust me, libraries in general are pretty big on the whole “free speech” thing, and rarely are policies and decisions like this arbitrary.

          • majortom1981 says:

            Well not all libraries act like that . I am an it worker at a library .Our childrens computers (up to 18 years old) are filtered. Our adult ones arent (thereby not getting erate funding) . ITs library policy that porn not be viewed on public computers. We ask the person to stop first and if they dont listen we kick them out. One of our security guards caught a guy looking at child porn. HE said loudly to the guy you cant look at child porn here its illegal you have to leave. He quickly left and NEVER came back.

            So not all libraries allow porn.

            • pot_roast says:

              you know, in all my years of surfing for smut (and I’ve seen a lot of smut), I have NEVER run across CP.. yet here’s another claim of some guy just out in the open, clicking away and viewing it.

              hmmm…

          • SunnyLea says:

            1) Porn in libraries is a common issue.

            2) The way you are saying that particular library reacted is uncommon.

            3) Thanks to CIPA, US libraries aren’t even allowed to drop filtering, unless they care to forgo receiving any federal monies.

            4) MOST libraries have pornography policies in place. Most libraries do not allow it.

    • winterene says:

      Um, hellooooo. The bathroom at Starbucks–a good place to find privacy, unlike bathrooms at many other businesses. Like, when traveling and without a home of one’s own.

    • blanddragon says:

      Internet police at Starbucks now? Carp I can not cruse porn anywhere anymore…

    • BytheSea says:

      Creepers, sexual harassers, exhibitionists, people who get off on knowing kids are looking at them looking at porn.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I worked at a bookshop where a homeless couple would come in and view porn mags together sitting on a bench that was smack dab in the middle of the store where all could see-and management never did anything about it! Takes all kinds…

  8. kylere1 says:

    Put up a sign that says, “Visible or audible pornography will result in you being asked to leave the store” then enforce it.

    Or be the OP and think you are cute and get fired.

    • ihatephonecompanies says:

      What’s the point of porn that’s neither visible nor audible?

      • AstroPig7 says:

        Imaginary porn is corrupting our youth!

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I find porn to be gross overall and don’t want myself or my child exposed to in a place that should be porn free. If it was some freak accident (like on a refurb’d cell phone), we’d live. But, looking at porn in a public place is no accident and it should be prosecuted by the police as a lewd act. It is very preventable.

          With the whole porn sarcasm you have going, I am curious as to where you would draw the line. If it’s okay to look at porn in front of unwilling people and children in public, is it okay for two people to have sex in public or a woman to walk around naked? If not, why not? What is the difference if they are both in the open for people to see?

          • Doubts42 says:

            i was with you until you threw out a woman walking around naked. there is a difference between nudity and sexuality. I am against fornication in public, partly because it is unhygienic but mostly because it is never the people you would actually want to see naked. But the sight of a pair of breasts or a pubic region is non offensive.

          • ihatephonecompanies says:

            -1 for being serious!

            Seriously though, while I’m not at all opposed to kids watching sex, I would have to admit that exposing kids to porn isn’t the best way, since porn sex as a norm is probably a distortion of how people actually have sex.

            So… yeah, porn in Starbuck’s probably isn’t the greatest. People screwing in public is a much better idea. Good call!

      • Atalanta says:

        There’s always written.

    • mszabo says:

      The sign seems somewhat pointless and just ads to the sign cluttered world we live in. A private buisness already has the authority to kick the customer out and doesn’t seem like a sign is needed.

    • Anne Marie says:

      Do they really need to list everything you CAN’T do in the store? I’m sure they can throw out people doing cartwheels without posting a sign.

      And how is it thinking you’re “cute” to ask a bunch of managers what to do and get no result and try something out of frustration?

      Also: I wouldn’t be surprised if there are rules on what you agree to do or not do on Starbucks’ wifi.

  9. FrugalFreak says:

    If they were doing so discretely, what they watch or do on the PC is none of your concern. UNLESS it was being displayed publicly or the noise was disturbing others. I think staffer being fired was extreme, but I lay this on his manager for lax training.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      So you think there’s nothing wrong with a dude sitting in the back corner of a starbucks watching porn as long as he has a headset on?

    • Gramin says:

      Wrong. If I’m discreetly smoking pot in the back of a store, the cops can and will arrest me. Discreet has nothing to do with it. If it is in plain sight, it’s fair game.

      Furthermore, he is inside a private business and must abide by their rules.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        pot is illegal, pornography is not.

        • hosehead says:

          Actually, viewing pornography in public where minors have a reasonable chance of exposure is generally illegal. In a situation like this, most law enforcement would deem there is a reasonable chance of exposure.

          It is not always enforced, but then again most people do not watch pornography in public.

        • newfenoix says:

          Actually, it the context that the article describes, it was illegal. Also, this is not a situation of someone trying to sneak a peak inside their car in a parking lot, this an eatery with children
          present. And that alone is enough to make it illegal in most states. Now, as to what happened;
          I have to agree with Starbucks on this one. The employee should have told management and then management should have told them to stop or leave. I have said this before and I will say
          it again…..NO ONE has the right to be an asshole in public.

    • katstermonster says:

      If the Starbucks employee knew that the customers were watching porn, I’m gonna go ahead and assume it wasn’t discreet. If they had made sure that other people couldn’t see or hear it, then this article wouldn’t exist.

    • demonicfinger says:

      the article just said people could hear and see the porn on his computer. lets read the entire article before posting huh?

  10. ExtraCelestial says:

    I would side with Starbucks if this was a written company policy. Otherwise, some sort of warning needs to take place before an actual termination. I don’t agree with what he did, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that indicates it may be grounds for dismissal. Starbucks was far too harsh on this.

  11. ElizabethD says:

    First step for Starbucks is to POST A POLICY about Internet porn in its coffee shops.

    Then, follow the policy.

    Barring a posted policy, I definitely would have asked the men in question to get off the porn sites out of consideration for other customers and minors.

    • rodeo40 says:

      Why are assuming the pornsters were all men? Isn’t that a tad sexist?

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        Because the OP said they were?

        “a number of men had been using Starbucks’ new free Wi-Fi to watch pornography”

      • ElizabethD says:

        RTFA

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        No. The number one consumer of porn is men, especially internet porn. As much as men would all love to think that women love to sit around looking at porn, I know very few women who do. I would say that of all the men I know, 100% probably look at and enjoy porn on a regular basis (I know for a fact that most of them do b/c they’ve talked about it.) Only about 10% of the women I know look at porn and it is usually with their husbands. I know for a fact that none of them troll the net for porn the way their SO’s do.

        Men are very visual when it comes to sex, women are not for the most part. It’s a pretty easy/logical assumption

        • Atalanta says:

          That says a lot about your sample demographics, too. Whole lotta women in fandom are loving their porn!

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      I’m surprised they don’t make you click on some sort of EULA listing all the things you can’t do before they allow you to proceed. Most of these places do. I have to admit, it’s kind of bad ass that they don’t.

  12. Straspey says:

    I think it may have been Camile Paglia who once said:

    “The definition of being in public is having to tolerate the behaviors of other people which you may find obnoxious or offensive.”

    For instance, there is a plethora of content – other than pornography – which I might find personally offensive and annoying while sitting next to you in my local Starbuck’s.

    The question is – who is responsible to take the remedial action ?

    And the answer is – It’s not your job to take care of my “feelings”.

    • Lollerface says:

      We’re not talking about someone listening to music you don’t like, it’s some dude watching a fuck film in a public place, it’s a little different. Should he be able to drink his coffee with his junk out too because the feelings of others are not his problem?

      • axhandler1 says:

        True, but where do you draw the line? Having your “junk out” while you drink your coffee is illegal, but viewing pornography is not, as long as you are of a certain age. Suppose that instead of viewing porn on his computer, the customer was reading a Playboy. Shutting off the Wi-fi wouldn’t have done anything. Although I agree with mac-Phisto, it’s a private business. They can ask you to leave, and you must comply. Which is what the clerk should have done, instead of killing the Wi-fi.

        • syzygy says:

          Pretty sure it’s not legal for someone to show the porn they’re looking at to people around them that aren’t of legal age to view it. Which, if they’re sitting in an open, public environment like a Starbucks, will likely end up happening, whether they realize it or not.

          The manager should have asked the men to leave due to complaints from other customers. They’re well within their rights to eject customers that are disturbing others. Starbucks should also have disciplined the OP, but not fired him/her; while turning off the Wi-Fi was perhaps not the best course of action, it was at least an effective one to solve the problem, and didn’t cause any harm to the customers.

      • madanthony says:

        If he spills hot coffee on his junk, can he sue?

    • mac-phisto says:

      it’s not really “being in public” though – starbucks is a private company. sure, it’s open to the public, but they certainly do have a right to enforce whatever rules they see fit on their customers (within the boundaries of the law, of course).

      • Crunchbones says:

        You’re confusing private/public ownership with “the public”. They are a private company that is open to the public.

    • JennQPublic says:

      SO, should we repeal all laws against indecent exposure/ flashing? Should it be legally acceptable for a man to walk up to a child on the street and show them his wang? Because that’s basically what these pornsters were doing- exposing kids to wangs, just not their own.

      No, it’s not okay to view porn publicly. I’ve got nothing against porn, hell, I own some. But I don’t want to see YOUR porn, you freak. ;-)

  13. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    He should have gone to his supervisor (unless he was the ASM or manager) and asked them to handle it.

    My friend is the manager at a Starbucks, and it is her responsibility to address these bizarre issues when they arise. If she is unavailable (which is hardly ever), her partners are supposed to go to the district manager with serious issues, of which this would probably qualify.

  14. aloria says:

    How many offenders are we talking about here? Why couldn’t he just ask the people involved to leave, and call the cops if they refused?

  15. moorie679 says:

    Some things you should not do in public where children are present, and I am glad this guy cared enough to yank the wi-fi. It does not sound like he was on a power trip, he maybe did not want to cause a confrontation with someone that is stupid/horny/creepy enough to watch porn without even headphones at a coffee shop.

  16. Sunflower1970 says:

    Why doesn’t Starbucks just block the porn sites?

    • deadandy says:

      Unfortunately then you have to define “porn”. I recall that my Aunt considers Maxim magazine to be porn, and you’ll note that this story carefully avoids saying what the so-called “porn” was.

    • Tonguetied says:

      Probably because that’s part of the attraction of the free Wi Fi is gaining access to porn…

  17. tedyc03 says:

    Messing with company computer equipment that you are not authorized to mess with is a serious offense. And if Starbucks had to hire anybody to fix it (we don’t know if they did or not), that would be even worse. If you touch company tech that you don’t have access to in most companies, you could get fired.

    The law doesn’t allow you to show pornography to anyone under 18 or anyone uninterested in viewing it; viewing it in a public place would seem to break this law. Call the cops. Ask them to leave. Do both. But don’t mess with technology you aren’t authorized to touch.

    • jeff_the_snake says:

      except the company materials explained how to do it. he should have just thrown them out but being fired is pretty harsh

  18. rodeo40 says:

    Who cares what they are doing with the WiFi? (not yours anyway). Make the coffee and mind your job. It’s as simple as that.

    • Pooterfish says:

      Really?

      That’s not even a very intelligent argument from a marketing/management perspective. Starbucks cares about creating a certain atmosphere in its stores, and part of an employee’s job is maintaining the store to company standards. I’m pretty sure Starbucks doesn’t want to be known as the skeezy place that creepy people go to watch porn in public. This guy was actually trying to be a good employee and protect their brand image — although he could have found a better solution than shutting off all wi-fi.

      • rodeo40 says:

        Why should the employee care about brand image? That is a corporate responsibility. People still have this silly notion that they will be rewarded if they go above and beyond their core job description.

        • Pooterfish says:

          It’s not “the corporation” that dusts the furniture or treats customers with respect and courtesy — it’s the front-line employees. Cashiers, customer service reps, and janitors shape a company’s image far more than an ad campaign or a marketing program.

          If you’re arguing that an employee has a right to not care about his job, you’re right — but that’s a pretty poor argument, and not very relevant to what happened here. And if you think this guy’s only job is to make coffee, you don’t understand how businesses succeed.

        • Pooterfish says:

          From the OP: “after a number of complaints from customers …”

          That’s who cares what the patrons were doing. It was bothering other customers.

          So your argument is that the barista should have shrugged his shoulders and told the offended patrons that Starbucks doesn’t care whether creepy guys make everyone appreciate and share in their public porn-viewing.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I do.

      I don’t want to see porn, nor do I want my child to see it. It’s gross.

    • Doubts42 says:

      wrong. As an employee you are a representative of the company and you job is not just to make drinks but to care for reasonable customer needs and desires. IMHO not being exposed to someone else’s porn preferences is reasonable.

  19. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sounds like the employee did due diligence and has a case for wrongful termination.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Agreed. If they didn’t want the OP doing this then they should have said so when he asked them.

  20. Crosberg says:

    Agreed! Plenty of public wifi services block certain content (Boingo, inflight wifi come to mind immediately, as do public libraries and school networks). Easy enough to do and would avoid the problem entirely.

    As for everyone claiming that Starbucks doesn’t have the right to regulate what customers view on their laptops, you’re actually wrong on that count. As the providers, they have the right to restrict content however they like. If users were paying or had a contract to access the wifi, that would be different and they could complain.

  21. mac-phisto says:

    i’m actually really surprised that starbucks doesn’t utilize a content filter to stop undesirable events like this. seems to me that they should.

    • Gramin says:

      Content filters are going to filter out 100% of the porn content. Additionally, they might restrict too much content. For example, my employer, a large financial institution, employs filters to block porn content. My team lends to healthcare companies (e.g. device manufacturers, pharma, etc.). We have, on several occasions, had to request IT create exceptions for these sites.

      I think Starbuck’s is assuming that the customer will have enough courtesy not to view these offensive sites and thus doesn’t employ filters.

      • bwcbwc says:

        Actually for the purposes of Starbucks, they don’t have to filter out 100% of the porn. If they filter out the top 60% of porn sites, that would probably be enough to drive the weirdos off while avoiding false positives.

    • jason in boston says:

      You think filters actually work? HAHAHAHAHAHHHAhAhahaHahHAHAHhAhAHhahAhAahAH

      Hold on, still laughing. HAHAHAHAHAAHhAhaahhaHhahahahA

      Yes, I am being a complete ass to make a point. Filters do not work. Just ask Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that have trialed filters. Maybe in 2003 your argument would be valid. Now, there are proxies and just looking up the ip address (that are easy enough for my grandmother to use – she was country blocked from watching some tv online and I showed her how to get around it). Or spend 4 minutes making a redirect domain at DOT.tk and you have a way around filters for life.

      FIltering will stop people until they input “how to bypass starbucks filter” if they were to install one. Change the human, not the tech.

      • czadd says:

        I’m not sure I agree with you on the filter. Most people don’t even know that it’s possible to get around filters. The small percentage who do know are going to do what they want, anyway. I use OpenDNS at home because I don’t want to explain certain things to my young daughter just yet. It works great. If I ran a shop where I provided free wi-fi I’d probably use OpenDns there as well.

  22. Coyote says:

    Kicking the perverts out of the store would have been the proper thing to do.

    Think of this way, if they had brought in dirty magazines and started flipping through and holding up the centerfolds would you ban all reading materials including newspapers, books, and regular magazines or just kick out the offending patrons?

  23. teke367 says:

    I do find it hard to believe that Starbucks has no policy about which employees can turn off Wi-Fi, or whose call it is.

    However, assuming the story is entirely true, it looks as though the employee did his/her due dilligence to make sure what they were doing was okay. Even if the employee was wrong, I don’t think it warrants more than a write up, termination is too much.

    If they truly asked the managers about what to do, and nobody knew, that is a failure on Starbucks as much as the employee, if not more.

  24. Pooterfish says:

    Well now, this is interesting.

    Consumerist readers are generally quick to decry corporations’ evil, greedy, and heartless treatment of employees. Somehow that concern is overridden in favor of the “right” to view porn in public.

    I have the feeling that if this weren’t about the freedom to watch porn in Starbucks, there would be a lot more outrage in this thread about a company firing an employee who tried to follow established procedure and did nothing against company policy.

    • brownh0rnet says:

      But if the corporation says we want the stores to provide wi-fi and gives the stores the means to do so, by default, it’s against corporate policy for him to not follow their directive. If he didn’t like it and his supervisors/managers (ie. the people with the authority) didn’t care, he should have manned up to his principles and sought employment elsewhere.

      • Pooterfish says:

        Do you really think the corporation doesn’t care whether creepy guys watching porn in their stores drives away customers?

      • Pooterfish says:

        As far as it “being against their directive” to shut off the WiFi, first off that’s a logical fallacy. The provision of a service is not the same thing as a mandate. Nor does provision imply that revocation is disallowed or punishable. Second, in this case the employee manual gave instructions on how to shut off the WiFi, so the corporation told employees how to do what you claim they never want employees doing.

  25. Skellbasher says:

    You guys should read the employee’s account in the comments.

    “Jim, I told you the following when I sent you this:

    1. I did ask the men to leave. One guy threatened me with physical violence, the others told me that they had the right to be in the store.
    2. I told the customers who were using the wi-fi for legitimate reasons what I was going to do. I asked them if it would interrupt anything, I asked if it was okay, they all said to go for it.

    I turned the wi-fi back on maybe 10-15 minutes later, after the offending people had left.

    The supervisor told me to go ahead and do it.
    The employee handbook has a page on “If you want to turn off the wi-fi, here’s how” and lists the steps to do so. Otherwise, you can call the Enterprise Help Desk, who will walk you through the steps.

    My SM and DM were well aware with the problems with porn and bootlegging at the store.
    I had no prior corrective actions, save for a few tardies in early 2009.

    Posted by: Xan Gordon”

    • DarthCoven says:

      Wow. Sounds like this guy might have grounds for a case against Starbucks for wrongful termination if what he says is true.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      I think Starbucks was totally out of line for firing the guy, if what he says is true. He tried to have the customers leave, they wouldn’t, he went to management, he turned off the wifi. Turning it off wasn’t the first step, it was the last in an attempt to get disruptive customers to leave.

    • BytheSea says:

      This guy’s an idiot. You ask a customer to leave, if he doesn’t go, you call the police. You don’t get into debates or altercations with anyone else, especially uninvolved bystanders. Sounds like a kid or someone who’s crap at management.

  26. Puddy Tat says:

    I am sorry but isn’t there something called public decency? and watching something like this in a public coffee shop with children around is actually lude conduct.

    Whois that guy who has the show “to catch a predator” instead of setting up all these elaborate traps all he apparently needs to do is cruise the local starbucks and use his famous why don’t you take a seat and lets talk about what your doing here.

    BuyerOfGoods – this is a public place with children and yes it affects my sensibilites and I have every right to protect my children from some pedifile. Or I wonder would Mr. GethisRocksOff in public prwn boy enjoy a nice hot cup of me kicking his through the plateglass door for exposing my children or your children to this in public?

    So your saying just because this is in public and he is in plain veiw showing this to ALL those around him including children it doesn’t constitute a crime?

  27. danmac says:

    If you read the comments from the article, it appears that politics may be playing a larger part in this than the story implies. Evidently, the employee is an active member of the IWW Starbucks union, and he believes that the Wi-Fi thing was just an excuse to get him out of there.

  28. Puddy Tat says:

    I am sorry but isn’t there something called public decency? and watching something like this in a public coffee shop with children around is actually lude conduct.

    Whois that guy who has the show “to catch a predator” instead of setting up all these elaborate traps all he apparently needs to do is cruise the local starbucks and use his famous why don’t you take a seat and lets talk about what your doing here.

    BuyerOfGoods – this is a public place with children and yes it affects my sensibilites and I have every right to protect my children from some pedifile. Or I wonder would Mr. GethisRocksOff in public prwn boy enjoy a nice hot cup of me kicking his through the plateglass door for exposing my children or your children to this in public?

    So your saying just because this is in public and he is in plain veiw showing this to ALL those around him including children it doesn’t constitute a crime?

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      One has to wonder if someone watching porn in a public place has a larger more dangerous issue. They are knowingly exposing others to it, including children, maybe they are indeed pedophiles or otherwise a danger to society. Issues with sexual control generally escalate. This seems like a low level of sexual preditorship that could turn into rape, exposure, etc…

  29. Gort42 says:

    If I were sitting in a Starbucks, using my laptop to read my email, I’d be really pissed off if a passive-aggressive employee turned off the wifi rather than just telling porn watching idiots to leave.

    • DigitalShawn says:

      Really pissed? That a free internet service was interrupting your reading of emails?

      Rage in public much?

    • coren says:

      What if he asked you and you said ok, and he told the idiots to leave and they wouldn’t. What then?

  30. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Shout across the room in a loud voice “EXCUSE ME! YOU CAN’T WATCH PORN HERE!”

    P.S. – nobody just “watches” porn. There’s no point unless it makes you want to fondle your boner.

    • Rena says:

      Agree and disagree. That probably would have been an effective deterrent, but yes, people can and do watch porn without touching themselves. The human body is a work of art, after all, and “porn” doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse.

  31. SNForrester says:

    The original article suggests the employee was fired due to his work with the Starbuck’s labor union and that “turning off wifi” was just a cover.

  32. Puddy Tat says:

    I would promptly knock the F****ing pedophile out and then place him under arrest if he was sitting their with children around doing this!

    If no children where present I would tell him to get the hell out of the store and never come back honestly WTF is he thinking…?

    • minjche says:

      What part of the article suggested to you the porn-watchers were pedophiles?

      Also, please, in the context you used it, the correct word is “there”, not “their”.

      So as far as proving you can read or write, you’ve got a solid C+ grade thus far.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        No part of the article stated it, he was merely making a theory, and a damn good one I might add.

        • minjche says:

          Based on this and your other post in this same thread, I’m quite comfortable thinking you’re in the same ilk as Puddy Tat.

          Also, you’ve reached your “the rest of the world is exactly like me” assumption limit. Please wait until tomorrow to make any more.

    • RandomHookup says:

      What the hell does watching pr0n have to do with pedophilia? He might be a pervert, but, if he’s watching adult pron, then he’s probably not a pedophile. Showing it to kids deliberately might make him a pedophile…or he might just be a sicko.

    • Doubts42 says:

      you’re an idiot.
      pedophiles? really?!?!?!?. pervs yes, Kiddie molesters no.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Anyone that watches porn, in an open business environment such as Starbucks, is not only a fucking loser but I suspect could be a pedophile. How can you watch porn with children around and not feel the slightest guilt? Shit, I don’t even has sex unless kids are absent or asleep, let alone being in the same room. That thought makes me sick. And watching porn involves taking action by following through with your thoughts. I mean, that’s what porn does for guys. We like images and it’s never enough to just “watch” it, we need to act it out. What guy watches porn and then goes home to sleep? Doh! WTF? Porn in a coffee house. How the fuck do you even contemplate doing this?
      And why doesn’t this Starbucks block porn? It’s not rocket science to do this.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      While watching porn does not = pedophile, watching it in a PUBLIC place, threatening the employee with violence when he asks you to turn it off (which is what happened) probably make you a sexual predator of some kind.

      All of you people getting up in arms and being defensive because YOU watch porn and don’t want to be thought of as a pedophile are completely forgetting that this was in public where children and others could and DID see it. People were complaining about it.

      • RandomHookup says:

        It makes him a jerk, for sure…jumping to pedophile is simply exaggerating to make a point (Oh noes!! Think of the children!!!).

  33. chipslave says:

    When I connected at my Starbucks a couple days ago, I had to check a box that said I agree to the terms and service. I didn’t read specifically what they were but I wonder if that is at all Sbuxs?

  34. Jester6641 says:

    Wow. The usual standards of comments hare are actually lower than usual. It’s a short blurb and we can determine a few things…

    1. The customer’s behavior was affecting other people. The blurb says they were getting complaints. So, right there, one group of customers is offending another group and the second group appeals to the staff for resolution.

    2. Yeah, it looks like he didn’t talk to the offending customers. That would have been the best way to handle it. Even mentioning that this could become a police matter complete with having to tell your neighbors about your history every time you move could potentially be a big stick to use to correct this behavior. Of course, I don’t know that my younger, fast food employed self would have had the guts to talk to those guys, either. But, this was the first thing he did wrong. Also, if one of my employees called me with this problem, my first question would be “Did you tell them to stop?”

    3. He checked with his managers. It says he went up the chain of command and was told to do it. Yep, it sucks, but it also means he’s just following orders. If I were him, I’d have done something like this in a recorded way (emails and texts vs phone calls) and I’d be falling back on the “I just did what I was told” defense about right now.

    4. Starbucks is a private company, not a utility. If they want to shut down their Wi-Fi, they can. Again, it would affect the people “trying to get work done” in the store (which would, occasionally, include me), but it’s just another case of a few bad folks ruining it for the rest of us. As my momma used to say: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

    5. It’s also a case of who would be more inconvenienced, the folks working or the folks offended by the porn. It’s loose-loose either way. If he hadn’t done anything, there could just as easily been an article titled “Customers Use Starbucks Wi-Fi to View Porn in Front of Children, Staff Does Nothing.”

    I don’t know, I think he got stuck in a bad situation and didn’t help himself out any by not talking to the customers, which would have probably solved the problem before it escalated. Like I said, I’d have CYA a bit more, but consider this a good lesson in how management can and will throw people under the bus when their management comes looking for someone to blame.

    • danmac says:

      Regarding your second point, here’s this is directly from the employee’s response on the Starbucks blog:

      I did ask the men to leave. One guy threatened me with physical violence, the others told me that they had the right to be in the store.

    • Bob says:

      So when is it the employee’s fault for following management’s order? Even if the employee didn’t follow procedures, it is ALWAYS the management’s fault. That is how management is supposed to work in the Western world. That is why they get paid the big bucks, to take total responsibility of the business. Anything different is BS. In my business the manager and his manager would have been disciplined as well, and out and out fired if the job and back pay was not offered to the fired employee.

  35. The Marionette says:

    I work a bit with networking and if the employee could’ve got on their network and blocked the guy’s laptop, it would’ve fixed the problem. Again that’s only if he was able to, I don’t know if their servers are at the stores or at another location. But I can say, regardless of the matter, the employee wasn’t trained to handle the situation, and he took all the steps he could so I see it fit that he shouldn’t have been fired, and if anything congratulated for bringing this problem out and giving the company a chance to fix this fault.

  36. BDSanta2001 says:

    Children? In MY starbucks? It’s more likely then you think.

  37. brianisthegreatest says:

    Depends on the router config. I’d probably try to block them by mac address first and if that didn’t work i would ask them to leave the store. Doesn’t seem out of the question if the porn could be heard by other patrons. That guy sshould have been expected a very rude encounter witha staffer. Poor bloke.

    • Gramin says:

      Block them by MAC address!? This employee has no right (nor training) to reconfigure Starbucks’ computer equipment.

  38. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    As you should have been. Its not your job to dictate societal standards. If this sort of thing is illegal, call the cops and arrest them on decency charges, you are not the decider of what is acceptable to view on the net.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Only illegal behavior gets one kicked out of a restaurant? Playing loud music, disturbing others, picking your nose and being abuser to the baristas — all okay?

  39. Puddy Tat says:

    I would fire the manager – regional manager – director for not standing behind an employee who was attempting to protect his customers including children from lewd and licivious conduct!

  40. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I think he did the right thing. If someone is enough of a monster to look at pron in public, I wouldn’t put it past them to become belligerent and cause a scene. Then, customers are exposed to further unpleasantries, the police may have to be called in etc… Seems like an employee could technically get fired for causing a scene with a customer too.

  41. cdmoney says:

    Call the police. Most communities have decency laws.

  42. d0x360 says:

    Losing a job sucks, even more when its over something stupid but why do you care if they watched porn? Its not like it was your bandwidth. Yes I know customers were complaining but you could simply lie to them and say only corporate has access to shut the system down.

  43. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …[he] went through all the steps, asking supervisors, calling managers, and even looking through the employee handbook…

    If this is worth firing this employee over then why didn’t they fire the supervisors and managers who gave the OP permission?

    Again, I feel that most commentors are missing the point here: he was fired for doing something he got permission from his superiors to do. That is completely unfair.

    • kriswone says:

      most companies fire the low end employees, thinking that the managers are not the issue. when it is almost always the managers fault. like in this case.

  44. kriswone says:

    So he stopped making coffee to walk around and view what people were viewing on the web?
    Mind your own and make my coffee you slacker!

    Sounds like a case of the peeping tom.

    is that double voyerism?

  45. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Xan’s comment at the other site:

    Jim, I told you the following when I sent you this:

    1. I did ask the men to leave. One guy threatened me with physical violence, the others told me that they had the right to be in the store.
    2. I told the customers who were using the wi-fi for legitimate reasons what I was going to do. I asked them if it would interrupt anything, I asked if it was okay, they all said to go for it.

    I turned the wi-fi back on maybe 10-15 minutes later, after the offending people had left.

    The supervisor told me to go ahead and do it.
    The employee handbook has a page on “If you want to turn off the wi-fi, here’s how” and lists the steps to do so. Otherwise, you can call the Enterprise Help Desk, who will walk you through the steps.

    My SM and DM were well aware with the problems with porn and bootlegging at the store.
    I had no prior corrective actions, save for a few tardies in early 2009.

    The man had permission to do it. Any arguments over your right to watch porn in public are irrelevant.

    • Bog says:

      I worked at Starbucks Enterprise Help Desk about 11 years ago. I told people there to turn off the wifi for short periods of time on a number occasions due to problems with the users. It wasn’t against policy when customers are being a nuance or disruptive as a general method to get them ot move on. Maybe now a days things have changed.

      I think that the excuse for the firing is a red-herring. The employee was a union organizer with the IWW (Wobblies). If that was the real reason then it was truly justified.

  46. ceez says:

    ask the customer to stop viewing or leave the store. hoping that once the barista turns he doesnt get shot in the back of the head.

    nowadays you dont know who you deal with. I would have just called the cops without revealing it was you. just play along and say ‘oh they were the ones looking at pr0n’

  47. bwcbwc says:

    Unless Starbucks has a policy of regulating its Wi-Fi users browsing to non-objectionable sites, the employee was way out of line. It’s entirely possible it has such a policy since it is so easy to view others’ screens throughout the store, potentially exposing under-age viewers to the material. Also having your customers constantly viewing porn and exposing employees to it could be viewed as grounds for a sexual harassment case (employee vs. company).

    But if the company does have such a policy, the employee should follow the policy, not just turn off the Wi-fi for everyone.

    Personally, in that position, and assuming I was backed by the company, I would offer the client 3 options: stop the porn, leave the store, or deal with the cops on a trespassing charge. If I wasn’t backed by the company, I’d be discussing with corporate about the implications of having employees and customers unwillingly exposed to porn.

  48. Dre' says:

    I never, ever say this, but the story submitter is a dumb ass & should have just asked them to leave & when they refused, called the cops.

  49. AI says:

    What is this, the Employeeist? People get fired from bullshit jobs for bullshit reasons all the time. Most of the reasons are not specifically discussed in any employee manual.

    If it wasn’t the employee’s job to control the internet, than regardless of what poor widdle children might have seen, he shouldn’t be touching the router. He should inform the manager what is going on, and then go back to making lattes. Let the manager shut down the wi-fi. If a customer complains about people watching porn, then ask the porn watchers to leave, and call the cops if they don’t.

  50. dilbert69 says:

    Ignore it. They’re obviously doing it for the shock value. If it fails to shock, it has no value.

  51. Wolfie XIII says:

    They have as much right to be thier viewing porn as anyone else has the right to be thier viewing sports scores or national news (all are about equal in value in my book). Good for this guy being fired.

  52. DanKelley98 says:

    It wasn’t his business to determine what customers can view on their PCs. Not (apparently) against company rules either. He chose to be the morality police and lost. Case closed.

  53. A Pimp Named DaveR says:

    No, sir, you were fired because you made a shitty business decision: instead of dealing with the small number of customers who were the problem, you pissed off the large number of customers who weren’t the problem. I’d have fired you too.

    • coren says:

      If by “dealing with the small number of customers who were the problem” you mean “telling the porn watchers to stop and getting threatened for it” and by “you pissed off the large number of customers who weren’t the problem” you mean “got permission from the other patrons”, sure.

  54. sumocat says:

    The real lesson is: never do anything that’s outside your job description. Doesn’t matter if you thwart a robbery, save a baby, or stop perverts from watching porn in front of kids, it can always be used as a reason to fire you.

  55. isileth says:

    There are guys who do love watching porn (over the Internet or in magazine) in front of others, especially young women to witness other people’s discomfort and smile.
    It once happened to me on a train.
    There was a middle-aged and not so “sexy” man who was watching a porn magazine and held it high in order to be visible from nearly every corner of the train-car.
    He moved when he saw a woman casually looking his way and had a great time when the woman/girl blushed.
    He tried with me, but I have him a scathing look and he stopped.
    Some men are virtual “flashers”.

  56. physics2010 says:

    No need to post a policy. Most states have laws about watching that in public, e.g. if you are driving your van with the headrest displays showing porn, and it is viewable outside the vehicle it is illegal. I’m sure viewing porn in public where other people are subjected to it. Even redacted city Starbucks in the specific state would have allowed us to pull up local laws.

  57. Toolhead says:

    I would have told them to leave.
    In fact I work for BBY and we have displays that people can use to surf the Web I tell people atleast once a day to either leave or stop using our store displays to view youporn.

  58. asok says:

    Turn Wifi off.
    Claim network problems.
    Turn back on when creepers leave.

  59. Razor512 says:

    It is pretty common, I have seen people doing it at McDonalds while lots of kids are around. Most people simply don’t care about anything around them. kinda like the idiots who randomly stop in the middle of the road to start a conversation with a friend walking down the sidewalk.

    The problem is that from the business point of view, little kids don’t really care about porn and wont understand it. Allowing someone to come in and watch porn may also mean that they may buy some coffee. If the worker was to kick them out, he would have still gotten fired because that means they are removing a paying customer. Evin businesses care about money not people. People could walk into starbucks and eat rat droppings and they would not care as long as they didn’t lose customers and as long as the feces eating idiot buys coffee at their insanely high ripoff prices.

  60. daemonaquila says:

    I totally side with Starbucks, and would go further and say that telling them to leave would have been just as out of line. If they were projecting it on a wall? That would be a problem. However, a restaurant should not be trying to censor what their customers are talking about, looking at on their own equipment, reading, etc. It’s no different than them throwing people out for reading a Playboy while drinking a latte.

  61. djshinyo says:

    If you’re watching porn with your morning coffee, me hopes it’s iced coffee….

  62. BytheSea says:

    Uh, no. You can’t remove a company’s most touted service because you’re too much of a pussy to ask a customer to leave. Customer shouldn’t watch porn in a store. Customer should be asked to leave. Manager should be fired.

  63. iconicflux says:

    I see this being a problem for Starbucks. The employee was obviously disturbed enough by the actions of some customers that they felt the need to do it. The things these customers were looking at were obviously of a nature that made them uncomfortable to approach them.

    I’d say that this made it a hostile work environment and the things making it hostile were sexual in nature so you could claim it was sexual harassment as well.

  64. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Maybe they should have considered using OpenDNS, then use their filtering tools to keep said “people with needs” from accessing the porn sites, BitTorrent, etc. etc. using the free wifi.

  65. Anaxamenes says:

    I’ve had to tell customers to stop watching porn, it’s super awkward, but they actually were so clueless as to not realize it wasn’t appropriate for a public location with children. They need to know, and just shutting it down doesn’t let them know it’s not ok. It’s still SUPER AWKWARD THOUGH!!

  66. Angrygnome says:

    I heard some Starbucks employees were using their pay to buy drugs. Quick, lets stop paying all of them. Oh wait, that’s moronic…

    So kick them from the store or call the cops if the porn publicaly visible. Here in Chicago the cops would arrest these guys really fast, from some kind of public indecency to child related sex charges (if children are present or possibly near a school).

  67. sopmodm14 says:

    stay classy starbucks

  68. demonicfinger says:

    i used to work at starbucks and we were not able to kick anybody out, even if they were drugged up and sleeping on our floors.

    but watching porn in a public area where kids and families can see is just pushing it. I would have stepped in and told those pervs to leave immediately and threaten to call the cops

  69. piscesdreamer222 says:

    I have to say I am a little disheartened with all the people that agree he was in the wrong by turning off the wifi. No matter what you say, a simple “He should have asked them to leave” does not work in this particular situation.

    It sounds like this employee went through every possible measure to verify that he was in the wrong and couldn’t so he was willing to STEP UP and make a judgement call. Unlike so many people out there who would rather avert their eyes and pretend nothing is going on so they don’t have to get involved.

    From the article it doesn’t sound like one single lonely man, it sounds like several over a long time frame. Think about how much time it takes to ask all the supervisors, then call managers, and then read an employee handbook. And in that time frame there are STILL men who are in a public place watching porn. It obviously wasn’t a one-time thing and would still be going on if this employee hadn’t of done something about it. Not to mention that these aren’t the kind of people that have the social understanding to “be asked politely to leave” They are watching porn for HOURS ON END in a coffee shop for fucks’ sake. (literally! lol)

    And if it IS several men as the article suggest then why run the gamut of being porn patrol with every single customer? Sure you catch the first two guys looking at porn, but what about a third that was just looking up something like say information on STDs, or another customer that wanted to find what time the local theater was showing their production of Equus. The employee would have eventually been fired for invading privacy for people that weren’t looking at porn and then everyone would want to hate him for being a blowhard that doesn’t know the difference between DVDA and Web MD. Which, btw means he would have to do all of this – patrol, monitor, ask each and every customer guilty of looking at porn to leave, waiting for them to leave, possibly calling the cops – ALL WHILE HAVING TO RUN A STORE.

    Now those who said he didn’t have the right, well by asking all the sups and managers what the proper response should have been means… he TOLD THE MANAGERS THAT PEOPLE WERE WATCHING PORN IN THE STORE. Which again, means that the managers did nothing. If an employee comes to you as the manager and says “Is it okay for me to turn off the wifi to stop people from watching porn” then wouldn’t you tell them employee that YOU would handle it from here? That obviously didn’t happen. The intentional lack of involvement by any higher authority means they elected him sheriff of the Starbucks. He had the authority to do what he needed to do.

    This kid stepped up to the plate, took control of a situation and had the balls to make a legitimate call. This kid should’ve been promoted to manager, not fired.

  70. human_shield says:

    I think he has a wrongful termination on his hands. His manager and supervisor (who are responsible for their employees) told him it was okay. Were the managers also fired? I doubt it.

  71. Clyde Barrow says:

    Policy books are only meant to be general overviews and it cannot take into account every single situation that occurs. Saying that it “isn’t against policy” is the most gawd awful and moronic thing that any manager says these days. I call it being “stupid and incompetent and abdicating their responsibility” when using this excuse.

    Viewing porn should not be condoned period. I hope this employee gets a better company to work for quickly because Starbucks just lost my respect and business.

  72. Zini says:

    This is soo funny… first its just porn big deal ask them to stop, second OMG no wifi in one starbucks for a few hours nooooo!!! its a tragedy! -2 points to everyone

  73. OKC Avenger says:

    Starbucks, rather than turfing staff, should have pointed the finger at themselves. After all, a mother with a child is going to have a pretty strong legal case against Starbucks if they’re enabling the surfing of porn in their stores. Rather than fire this good guy, they should have put blocks on as many questionable adult websites as they can, and put up a sign in the store that states that accessing such material is against Starbucks policies and you will be banned from the location.

  74. Elsydeon says:

    I am not a lawyer or other legal professional.

    File a wrongful termination claim and contact your local unemployment office Since you were explicitly given permission to do so by your supervisor and the employee handbook not only does not ban such, but actually instructs you on how to do it, it is considered to be a part of your job to disable wi-fi when needed. This is about as classic wrongful termination as you could get. “Hire at will” is a term they would probably throw around, most states’ and federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws override absolute “at-will” employment (wikipedia has a list).

  75. brianary says:

    Wait, can we be a great deal clearer about the infraction?

    Are we talking about two guys watching a Sports Illustrated bodypainting video, or what?

  76. CBenji says:

    I am thinking that this person whoever it was, was a problem employee. They probably wanted to fire him or her long before this happened, and now was their chance. Obviously he or she did something else before this, and the OP has left out how he was late everyday for the last 3 weeks, or God only knows what else.

  77. Bob says:

    I feel an Avenue Q song coming on……

  78. Rena says:

    Bad as this might sound, I want to say there should be no problem with looking at porn in a public place. The problem would be indecency. If people can see the screen, or you’re behaving indecently, or the machine (or you) is making indecent or annoying sounds, then you’re doing something wrong. If you’re just sitting there in a corner where others can’t see, smiling away, both hands on the keyboard, then what’s the problem?
    Some people are turned on by unusual things; should people not be allowed to look at those things, even if they aren’t considered sexual by most? And on the flip side, some pervert can come in and start behaving inappropriately without porn. It’s not what you’re watching, but how you’re behaving.
    The “let’s block everything that could lead to inappropriate behaviour” mentality probably does more harm than good, blocking harmless resources and/or things people have a legitimate reason to look at, failing to actually block what it intends to, slowing down the system, and getting people in trouble for “looking at porn” when they only stumbled across it by accident, didn’t know what they were clicking, got an unexpected erotic message, etc. They could also be downloading something with the intent to watch later in private.

    These guys were apparently behaving inappropriately and thus should have been kicked out, or the police could have been called. (Letting people see erotic photos, on a screen or otherwise, in public seems like a form of indecent exposure.) I also wonder, if you have to buy a drink to use the free wifi, it must come with some type of code? Could they not just cancel the code, cutting off that particular user? Or temporarily block the sites they were accessing? Turning it off entirely seems pretty harsh. Either way, there is a big difference between inappropriate behaviour in public (whether involving porn or not) and merely looking at things.

    tl;dr: Accessing porn in a public place doesn’t necessarily constitute public indecency (the actual crime), even if it did in this case. So long as you keep it private, it should be fine.

  79. Swag Valance says:

    Well, I supposed if they fired people for making uninspired, bland coffee, nobody would be left to take our money.

  80. Swag Valance says:

    Well, I supposed if they fired people for making uninspired, bland coffee, nobody would be left to take our money.

    This story smells like a 4-day-old fish. The employee could have been jerking off in the store room using a direct connection for all the info we have here. This is a pretty b.s. grounds for dismissal if the person was a decent employee.

    Betty’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley has had to deal with this issue for years already, btw.

  81. mrbucket says:

    I can’t help but chuckle at the method used. Sure, they probably should have asked the customer to stop, or leave… but then we’d have a Consumerist post by the scorned scumbags claiming that their rights to free porn while being caffeinated were heinously violated.

    Either way, its a prime example of the naivety of corporations when it comes to providing such access without a clear cut method of dealing with the exceptions to what is acceptable.

    The former employee should have been warned (not terminated) but after 3 years of working there if they were terminated for this very minor gaffe – chances are someone was waiting for any reason to let them go.

  82. XanGordon says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize this had made it so far onto the internet.

    Well, that’s me in the story.

    Just a couple things I want to clear up (much to the chagrin of my attorney) – I did ask the guys to leave. They wouldn’t. I had two options – call the police or turn off the wi-fi. Calling police? Bad for business. I turned off the wi-fi, the guys left, I turned it back on, everything was good for the rest of the shift.

    Not only is turning the wi-fi off NOT against policy, but the employee handbook tells you how to do it. “If you want to turn off the wi-fi, here’s how.”

    Of course, the hell of it is that my store manager watches the stuff on his breaks and buys stuff from the bootleggers, so he was probably just protecting his own interests.

  83. pyrobryan says:

    I love how people act as if they are entitled to free wifi at starbucks and this kid trampled on the constitutional rights of the patrons by temporarily disabling it. Some skeeves were surfing porn in public. The last thing I want to do while some freak is getting his rocks off is walk up and talk to him.

    I don’t think what he did was wrong. However, after he turned it off, he should have approached the offender(s) and told them that if they want to watch porn, they need to do so in private (there are laws governing the public display of pornography). Then he should have turned it back on. If they started watching porn again. Turn it off and call the cops. There’s no way he should have been fired for this.