Starbucks Barista quit after manager told her to put her dog down

Starbucks Barista quit after manager told her to put her dog down

  • A Starbucks employee said she quit after her boss asked her to put down her sick dog.
  • Auralee Smith worked at Starbucks for over two years before quitting, calling the culture “remote”.
  • Her beloved rescue dog, Gandy, was her “best friend” until she got cancer and had to be euthanized.

A 21-year-old college student quit her job as a Starbucks barista after her manager asked her to make an appointment to put her dog down so she wouldn’t miss work.

Auralee Smith said the family’s rescue dog, Gandy, was her “best friend.” The family adopted Gandy when she was about eight years old, and Gandy was “really scared and stuff when we got her,” Smith told Insider.

“My family helped her come out of her shell,” Smith said. “It was like she was finally happy not to be in a stressful, horrible situation.”

The family joked that Gandy was a “cat dog” because of how much she loved to sleep in the sun. Smith, who teaches piano lessons in New Jersey, said Gandy would “sing along” when she played the piano.

“I would play a note and she would try to match it with howling,” Smith said. “It was very, very sweet. She loved it.”

It was devastating when Gandy’s family discovered she had cancer and the vet advised against surgery due to Gandy’s advanced age. While dealing with the pain of choosing to put Gandy down, Smith said the last thing she expected was for her Starbucks manager to “literally ask me to change the day I put her to sleep” when Smith said she asked to covered the shift. .

Auralee Smith's dog, Gandy.

Auralee Smith’s dog, Gandy.

Courtesy of Auralee Smith.


“I’m sorry to do this but I’m trying to find cover for my Sunday shift. I have to put my dog ​​down on Saturday night and I want to be a mess. She’s my best friend,” Smith said in a text message to her boss in February, adding “I’m going to text some people and see if they can help.”

“I really need you to find cover,” Smith’s manager replied. “I understand it’s a tough situation, but you have a lot of notice, so it won’t be approved if you don’t come in. Is there a way you can do it on a night where you don’t work the next day?”

After more than two years working for Starbucks, Smith said the text message was the last straw.

“I read that last sentence and I was audibly like, ‘Oh. What the hell? How?’ How was that decision about what to say to me?” Smith said. “That was such a harsh response to me, just asking me if I could change the day I put her to sleep.”

In response to her manager, Smith texted: “I will do my best to find coverage. I’m sorry for the inconvenience but it’s the family dog ​​and she’s very sick and that’s what my family has decided to do. I can’t reschedule when I take my dog ​​to Starbucks. This is me putting in my two weeks officially too. I have worked for this company for 2.5 years and I appreciate what it has done for me but I’m ready to move on.”

Although it was upsetting, Smith said she wasn’t entirely surprised by the manager’s response and didn’t place all the blame on her. It was Starbucks as a company, she said, that cultivated an environment where employees were overworked and undervalued. It has become a common refrain among the coffee chain’s employees, many of whom have signed up to the professional body.

“To me, this is just the mentality that Starbucks promotes behind the scenes,” Smith said. “It just kept getting worse over my time at Starbucks that mentality that leads to someone asking me to change the day I put my dog ​​to sleep. I already felt like I was burning out and stuff. So, when I saw that, that was it. “

A Starbucks spokesperson said the text messages posted by Smith do not show the full picture. In text messages shared with Insider, Smith’s manager expressed sympathy for her situation, but maintained that Smith needed to find coverage for her shift.

“The health and well-being of our partners is and continues to be our top priority. In this case, we were able to support this partner in getting her work covered at the time,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.

Smith said she has received overwhelming support after posting screenshots of the exchange on Twitter and Reddit after she had time to mourn Gandy, but she remains frustrated with how the company tried to promote a big-happy-family atmosphere while employees worked in tense conditions where customers wanted to get their coffee quickly and get out.

“As they’ve become more toxic and desensitized in that way, they also still hold — they mean the company — hold so hard to this idea that they’re trying to be a small family-owned coffee shop or something and not the McDonald’s of coffee shops,” Smith said. “It’s not a little mom-and-pop shop and they expect you to act like it while everything is short-staffed and toxic and insensitive.”

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