How comfortable are we going to be using public restrooms after hearing this?
Starbucks may soon be paying a heavy price once again for another hidden camera affair.
William Yockey of Virginia is suing Starbucks after his 5-year-old daughter found a spy cam in one of its bathrooms in Washington, D.C. This is at least the third such incident reported this year for the coffee chain, ABC news reported.
The 28-year-old man is asking for $1 million for negligence, failure to supervise employees, breach of privacy and failure to inspect facilities in a timely manner.
Yockey told ABC he and his family were sightseeing in Washington in April when his daughter wanted to use the bathroom. They chose a Starbucks in Penn Quarter, a few blocks from the National Mall.
Yockey said that since one of the bathrooms was closed, they decided to use the unisex one, which he described as filthy.
While washing her hands, the girl noticed a camera that was tucked under the sink and pointed right at the toilet.
Yockey said the digital video camera was recording. He went to the manager, who was surprised and appeared to have no idea about it and called the police.
Police found the camera under a U-shaped drain pipe in the bathroom and confirmed that it was recording.
It's unclear who left the camera there and why. Police are investigating the matter.
We, as a company, take our obligation to provide a safe environment very seriously. When we were alerted, we called the police, Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz said.
Yockey described the incident as embarrassing and humiliating. He said the recording could have been circulated over the Internet and that his daughter could have been violated.
In May, a man was arrested near Los Angeles for placing a camera in a Starbucks restroom and recording more than 45 women and children. In Florida, in June, Eric Efaw killed himself after police busted him planting a camera in a Starbucks restroom.
In 2009 in New York, a Starbucks employee was caught spying on people in bathrooms with a camera.
Starbucks' Hilowitz said that considering the chain has 17,000 cafes, such incidents are extremely rare.
But Yockey's lawyer, Hank Schlosberg, said the incident cannot be excused.
It's not safe to use the bathroom in public anymore apparently, Yockey said.
No trial date has been set, although the court rejected Starbucks' move to dismiss the case.
According to a CBS report, Starbucks said in a statement on Monday:
We take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners [employees] very seriously. Our store partners took swift action as soon as they became aware of the issue - immediately alerting the police department and assisting in the investigation. We continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter; however, because there is pending litigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case. However, we can tell you that as a part of regular store operations, we monitor the seating areas and rest rooms in our stores on a regular basis to identify potential safety or security concerns.