Deaf woman says she was refused service at Dunkin' for asking employees to lower masks

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A deaf woman in California said she was denied service at a local Dunkin’ location after she asked employees to remove their masks so she could read their lips. 

"I couldn’t hear anything. I wear a cochlear implant, but I didn’t have it on at that time. I’ve never been refused service and it hurts," Shannon Heroux said in a viral TikTok video she posted Sept. 13. 

The incident occurred in the Encino area earlier this month when Heroux, who is an Uber driver, was at the cash register of the Dunkin’ and asked the cashier and manager to lower their masks so she could read their lips or to write down what they were saying. 

"He didn’t believe me. You could see it in his body language," Heroux said of the manager. "I kept saying, ‘Write it down,’ once or twice, and then he just kept talking with his mask on. And then before I know it, I said, ‘Are you going to take my order?’ and he said no, or he shook his head no."

"He refused to put the mask down. We’re six feet apart, there’s a plexiglass to the side. I'm wearing my mask. Like, what more do you want from us. We struggle so much during this pandemic. Enough is enough," she added in the video while tearing up. 

More than a week after the incident, Heroux said she was still "heartbroken" by what happened, CBSLA reported. 

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The North Hollywood woman recounted that it’s been a struggle for her since mask mandates were put into place last year in response to the coronavirus

"The whole time, from the moment we went to our first shopping experience with the mask mandated, I had to have my partner by my side," she said, the outlet reported. 

"I wanna know, like, what is this manager like to other people and why would he do that," she said. "No deaf person deserves that, you know. It’s an invisible disability. We shouldn’t be judged like that, even if we speak or don’t speak. It doesn’t matter."

Heroux posted follow-up TikTok videos this weekend saying she had met with the franchise owner of the Dunkin’ to discuss ways to support the deaf community, including potentially wearing masks with clear plastic over the mouth area so customers can lip read and also potentially holding sensitivity training. 

She also added that the manager from the incident was not fired, but had been written up, and she’s hoping for a face-to-face apology. 

Dunkin’ also issued an apology over the incident when it first surfaced last week.  

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"We take matters like this very seriously," a Dunkin’ representative said last week. "At Dunkin’, we are committed to creating a welcoming environment and treating every guest with dignity and respect. We have contacted the guest to apologize, and we are actively working with her to resolve the matter."

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