Starbucks Customer Who Refused to Wear a Mask Says She Wants Half of the $100K Raised for the Barista

Kristin Salaky
Photo credit: Matt Cowan - YouTube
Photo credit: Matt Cowan - YouTube

From Prevention

Back in June, a San Diego Starbucks barista went viral for refusing to serve a woman who wouldn't wear a mask, according to company policy. A GoFundMe was started for him that raised more than $100,000 — and the woman he wouldn't serve now says she deserves half of the money.

It all started when Facebook user Amber Lynn Gilles posted a photo of a Starbucks employee, later identified as Lenin Gutierrez, and said that he "refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

The post was shared thousands of times and racked up hundreds of thousands of comments. San Diego County, where the Starbucks is located, has required masks in public since May 1, according to NBC San Diego, and businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone without one.

"We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores. We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores," a Starbucks spokesperson told "More information on what customers can expect in our stores can be found on our At a Glance page."

Shortly after Gilles' post went up, a GoFundMe was established for Gutierrez. "Raising money for Lenin for his honorable effort standing his ground," Matt Cowan, who created the page wrote. When the fundraiser hit $10,000, Gutierrez sent in a video to the page thanking donors for their support.

"I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support and what everyone is doing, it's an honor to see all this happen," he said while wearing a mask. "But I just wanted to remind everyone to be kind to one another, and to love each other, and always remember to wear a mask."

Gilles told NBC San Diego that she never threatened Gutierrez, but that she "called him out on his actions." She also said she does not believe masks are effective. “It starts with coffee but it ends with digital certificates and forced vaccinations,” Gilles said.

Gilles told ABC 10News that she was discriminated against and cited two documents she claims prove her medical exemption from wearing a face-covering. Gilles said she wants half of the money that was raised for the barista, Lenin Gutierrez, who has already been given the money in cash. He plans to use it to further his education and support the dance community in San Diego.

Gilles said she reached out to lawyers about taking her case but the legal fees would be too expensive, so she started her own GoFundMe donation page.

The CDC "recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."

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