A Norfolk family is suing Starbucks after they say a father and daughter were secretly videotaped inside the bathroom at the chain's location near the National Mall.
According to a civil complaint, William Yockey and his family were visiting Washington from Norfolk in late April when they entered Starbucks at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
While Yockey and his daughter were using the restroom, they discovered a small, activated camera under the sink that was pointed toward the toilet.
“She used the restroom..., and then I was using the restroom and my daughter says to me, ‘Daddy there's a camera,’” said Andrew Yockey.
Yockey did not want a news camera to capture his face, but a different camera may already have.
“I turned and looked, a little out of disbelief, and sure enough there was a small digital camcorder underneath the sink pointed directly at the toilet,” he said.
Yockey says he immediately reported it to the store's manager. “She calls the police and then offers me a beverage on the house,” he said. D.C. police confiscated the camera.
Starbucks has tried to have the case dismissed to no avail. The Yockeys are alleging invasion of privacy, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring, training and supervision in their suit.
“It's not about money, it's not about focusing on that at all, it's just about getting Starbucks to pay attention in this is happening nationwide,” said Lindsay Yockey.
The family and their lawyer say that had Starbucks conducted timely inspections of the bathroom, the camera would have been noticed.
The family’s attorney Hank Schlosberg is confident in the case. “I think a jury would understand the humility and the embarrassment that these folks went through,” he said.
In a statement, Starbucks said it contacted police immediately after it learned of the incident and is assisting in the investigation.
“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,” Starbucks stated.
Starbucks added that it can't comment directly on the case because of the lawsuit.
“I always go to this Starbucks but I've never gone into the bathroom - thank goodness for that,” said Taneisha Kelly.
“It's their business. They should have someone checking the stores regularly to make sure something like that's not going on,” said D.C. resident Kyle Weldon.
Yockey also says in his suit that the employees at the Starbucks had knowledge of the camera and their alleged illegal activity.