Starbucks is under fire after they were accused of exposing their customers and employees to pesticides for years, reported PEOPLE.
The company was slapped with two lawsuits in New York City on Tuesday. The suits claim that the coffee giant “intentionally and wantonly exposed its customers to toxic chemicals” in the form of pest-control strips.
The suit also alleged that the Manhattan located Starbucks fired a store manager who brought up the issue. They also allegedly fired a pest control technician and his supervisor who complained.
PEOPLE obtained a copy of a class-action suit filed in Manhattan state court. In the suit, 10 Starbucks customers allege they were exposed over a three-year period to Dichlorvos (or DDVP), a poisonous and potentially deadly pesticide emitted into the air by Hot Shot No-Pest Strips.
The strips are used to eliminate bugs like cockroaches, maggots, and flies through “a clean, odorless vapor.” Each strip will treat a 900-1,200 cu ft. space.
The strips specify that they are not to be placed “in the food/feed areas of food/feed processing or food/feed manufacturing or food/feed service establishments." The manufacture Spectrum Brand Holdings specifically warned about this.
Yet the lawsuit alleges Starbucks placed the strips adjacent to air vents, near food-prep equipment, under counters, and in enclosed food cases, “coating the bakery items therein with a dangerous amount of poison.”
A second lawsuit was from the Starbucks employee, store manager Rafael Fox, who was fired in February 2018 after complaining about the strips’ misuse. That same suit includes pest control technician and his supervisor, Paul D’Auria and Jill Shwiner. They say they complained that strips were being misused in multiple Manhattan Starbucks locations from 2016 through 2018.
Reps for Starbucks did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Their spokesman Reggie Borges told USA Today the lawsuits “lack merit and is an attempt to incite public fear for their own financial gain.“
“We go to great lengths to ensure the safety of customers and employees,” he said.
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