San Diego's "Starbucks Karen" Sues Sprouts Farmers Market After Store Denied Her Entry Due To Mask Policy

November 20, 2020

San Diego's now-infamous "Starbucks Karen", who rose to Internet stardom following a flip out at a local Starbucks that resulted in the barista receiving more than $100,000 in GoFundMe donations, has sued Sprouts Farmers Market alleging its mask policy violated her civil rights.

On June 22, Amber Lynn Gilles made a post on her personal Facebook account about her experience at a Starbucks in San Diego's Clairemont Mesa neighborhood where an employee asked her to wear a face mask. The post almost immediately went viral and became national news, resulting in a GoFundMe campaign entitled "Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen" with the sole purpose of providing gratitude to the Starbucks' employee, Lenin Gutierrez. The crowd-sourced campaign ultimately raised more than $100,000 for the young man, who intends to use the money to pursue his education and open a dance studio for children.

After making national news, Gilles came forward and stated she will be seeking half of the money that went to Gutierrez, claiming the GoFundMe resulted in discrimination and defamation of her character. Gilles continued to claim an inability to wear the requisite facial covering due to suffering from a fibroid tumor, asthma and mask acne. Gilles has also launched her own GoFundMe in an attempt to raise funds "to pay for legal fees to redress my character." Gilles also hosted a mask-burning protest in Mission Bay over the summer. 

Gilles latest move to build her notorious anti-masker brand is the filing of an 11-page federal lawsuit against Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market after the company's Clairemont store denied her entry on August 6 due to her refusal to wear a mask as required by statewide health order. In the complaint filed on October 30th by Steven D. Baric of Newport Beach, CA, Gilles alleges Sprouts' uniform mask requirement violated Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act. She claims she has medical conditions that makes wearing a mask "impossible", yet fails to include documentation in her complaint. Gilles provided an image of a hand-written note to Times of San Diego, but the doctor's name was redacted. 

Gilles posted a video of her experience at the Sprouts Farmers Market on Genessee Avenue in San Diego's Clairemont neighborhood to her Facebook account, and it has been viewed more than 28,000 times. In the video, you can hear her threatening that she would be suing the company after a staffer explained she could not come in without a mask. 

Due to COVID-19 precautions, since May 1, San Diego County has required the wearing of face coverings when entering any business open to the public. California Governor Gavin Newsom made it a statewide mandate that facial coverings be worn while in public or high-risk settings, and has recently tightened mask requirements to mandate people wear a face covering at all times when outside the home, even if exercising, if they are within 6 feet of others not in their household.

Read Gilles full complaint against Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. below.