Dunkin' Donuts apologizes for calling police on customer after she spoke Somali

Elise Solé
Dunkin’ Donuts has apologized to a Somalian customer who was berated by an employee for not speaking English. (Photo: Facebook/Hamdia Ahmed)

Dunkin Donuts apologized to a college student after one of its employees called the police in an altercation that she said began when she stopped at a drive-thru with her family and the attendant heard them speaking Somali.

On Monday, 20-year-old Hamdia Ahmed tried placing a coffee order in the drive-thru of a Dunkin’ Donuts located in Portland, Maine, when an employee became enraged over the loudspeaker. 

We were speaking in our native language before we even spoke through the microphone to place our order. Out of nowhere, the shift manager screamed at us and said, ‘Stop yelling, leave or I’m calling the cops,’” Ahmed wrote on Facebook. “I was surprised to hear this because we weren’t even doing anything. The shift manager told us to leave and she was calling the police. She also refused to take our order.” 

The University of Southern Maine student parked, leaving her older brother and mother in the car, and went inside the store to inquire why the police were called. “I also wanted to let this woman know that her behavior was unacceptable,” Ahmed tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And I decided to wait for the police.” 

Ahmed alleges other customers began filming the altercation and says one left the store saying, “I’m not buying coffee here — this is straight-up racism.”

Hamida Ahmed says she was racially discriminated against at a Portland, Maine, Dunkin Donuts. (Photo: Jason Poulin)

Ahmed explained in her Facebook post that after speaking to police officers, she was initially issued a no-trespass order for “disturbance and yelling at a staff.” According to the Portland Press Herald, Ahmed’s order bans her from the John Street location for one year.

“The only crime we committed was speaking in our native language,” wrote Ahmed. “Languages come in a different tone and this woman felt like we were a threat to her. This is America and everyone should have the right to speak in their native language. Unbelievable.”

Ahmed also posted a Facebook video of the argument. “Don’t talk to me like that when I was talking to my family in my language,” she says into the drive-thru microphone. “You’re going to disrespect me because I speak a different language than you? Is that what it is?”

The employee responds, “It has nothing to do with your language. You can leave. I don’t want to hear it. I’m done with it. You can leave, or I’ll call the cops.”

According to the news outlet, store owner Dave DaRosa apologized to Ahmed on Wednesday and he revoked the “No Trespass” order. Representatives of Dunkin’ Donuts and the Portland Police Department did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. 

“He gave a sincere apology,” Ahmet told the Press Herald. “He acknowledged that the police should have never been called.”

The paper also published a statement from Dunkin Donuts’ corporate office: “Dunkin’ and our franchisees are committed to creating a positive customer service experience for all of our guests. The franchisee who owns and operates the store has confirmed he has met with the guest, sincerely apologized to her for the poor experience and is working on providing additional customer service training to his store crew.”

“I appreciate their apology but what I really wanted to get out of the meeting is I want training for their workers,” Ahmed told the Press Herald. “Because they can’t treat people like that, and the police should have never been called.”

According to a recent Tweet from Ahmed, Dunkin’ Donuts will now train their staff as well.

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