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A woman has gone viral after she was allegedly denied service at an Encino, Calif. Dunkin' Donuts for being deaf.
Shannon Heroux took to TikTok on Tuesday, tearfully accusing the coffee chain of turning her away because she is unable to hear. Heroux shared her story in two videos that have since garnered more than 6.7 million views collectively.
"As you guys can probably tell, I'm emotional," Heroux said. "A little while ago I got refused service at a Dunkin' Donuts 'cause I'm deaf."
According to Heroux, she "couldn't process" the experience and explains that at the time of the incident she wasn't wearing her cochlear implant which she normally wears.
"I've never been refused service before," she added. "It hurts. It hurts really bad. Dunkin' Donuts is my favourite place to go."
Heroux said she called over an employee and asked her to lower her mask so that she could read her lips, because she's deaf. When the female employee went to find a manager, Heroux, an Uber driver, received a notification for a ride and told the employee that she was in a hurry to order her drink.
"The manager comes over, and I can just tell by his body language and his face that he was going off!" she continued. "I kept saying, 'I can't hear you, I can't hear you, I need to lip-read.' He refused to write anything down and he refused to pull his mask down."
She added that the pair were standing six feet apart from each other with a sheet of plexiglass between them.
"What more do you want from us?" she asked, explaining how difficult the circumstances of the pandemic have been on those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"I could sense and feel from him that he didn't believe me," she tearfully continued. "He didn't believe me. He didn't believe I was deaf because I speak so well. It's a blessing and a curse."
Heroux's initial video was met with support from viewers urging Dunkin' Donuts to "make things right."
"Dunkin', I hope you reach out to this customer and make things right for her," one person commented, while another added, "This breaks my heart."
"I'm so sorry you had to go through this," another wrote. "Even if the employee policy is to keep their masks on, they still should have tried to communicate with you. Write on paper, type on a phone, anything!"
"What he did is against the law," another viewer said, urging Heroux to take legal action. "You could file a claim against them. I'm so sorry for you."
"Shaking my head," one person wrote, tagging Dunkin' Donuts. "Do better."
Someone else chimed in, claiming that they work for the same chain and that there are protocols in place for helping deaf customers.
"I work at Dunkin' and we're trained to make accommodations when situations like this happen," they wrote. "I can't fathom how you must be feeling."
In a follow-up video, Heroux continued to explain how the pandemic and mask wearing has negatively impacted the deaf community.
"I shouldn't have to go through this," she began. "No deaf person should have to go through this. I've been discriminated against this entire pandemic. And it's about time someone does something. Target, Costco, the grocery store, Walmart, now Dunkin'. I've had enough. We do the right thing and you guys don't care. You kick me out for wanting to get a peach passionfruit tea."
In an interview with Yahoo Life, Heroux said she was contacted by a representative from Dunkin' Donuts who was "very apologetic" and working to have the "situation handled." Heroux revealed she was was contacted by the franchise owner who offered to "meet up and discuss what happened."
“We take matters like this very seriously,” a Dunkin’ Donuts representative tells Yahoo Life. “At Dunkin’, we are committed to creating a welcoming environment and treating every guest with dignity and respect. We have contacted the guest to apologize, and we are actively working with her to resolve the matter.”