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Dunkin’ Donuts fires worker dumping water on homeless man in viral video
[NEW YORK] Once again, a video that shows employees at a coffee shop behaving in questionable ways has gone viral.
A Dunkin' Donuts employee was fired after he was filmed pouring a pitcher of water on a homeless man who appeared to be sleeping in a store in Syracuse, New York.
The video, posted Sunday night to Facebook, resonated widely because it depicted a seemingly harmless man being victimised and mocked.
In the footage, the worker approaches the man, identified by the police as Jeremy Dufresne. Mr Dufresne's head is resting on a table when the worker dumps the water on his head and back.
The worker and another person can be heard laughing as Mr Dufresne shakes water off himself and his cellphone.
"How many times have I got to tell you to stop sleeping in here?" the worker asks Mr Dufresne. The employee says on the video that he will not call the police but that Mr Dufresne must leave the store.
It was not immediately clear who recorded and posted the original video.
But Sam Breazeale, 23, a diesel mechanic in Syracuse, said he saved a copy of the video after seeing it elsewhere on Facebook. By Tuesday afternoon, his post had been viewed more than three million times.
Mr Breazeale said he "wanted people to see what was going on at the Dunkin' Donuts".
"I knew that what was going on wasn't right, and I don't know why you'd do that to somebody."
In an interview with The Post-Standard of Syracuse, Mr Dufresne said he had entered the Dunkin' Donuts to charge his phone so that he could call his mother. He also said he was not asleep when the video was filmed but was briefly resting his head.
The video is the latest social media post that shows employees acting improperly at a coffee chain. In June, an employee at a Dunkin' Donuts in Cincinnati was fired after writing a disparaging note on a homeless woman's cup. In April, a video of two black men being arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia was viewed more than eight million times on Twitter.
That incident drew outrage, and the company's chief executive called it "reprehensible".
The employee who was visible in the Dunkin' Donuts video was fired, according to a statement from Kimberly Wolak, the chief operating officer of The Wolak Group, which owns and operates the location. Other employees were also let go, but they were not identified.
"We were extremely disturbed by the behaviour of our employees captured in the video," Ms Wolak said.
In a separate statement, Dunkin' Donuts said, "the treatment of the guest goes against the brand's core values".
Richard Helterline, a spokesman for the Syracuse Police Department, said that Mr Dufresne met the police on Tuesday to discuss the incident and that the police had passed the case on to the Onondaga County district attorney's office. The office said it was reviewing the incident.
Dufresne told The Post-Standard that he struggles with mental illness. He told the newspaper that he lives outside because he prefers it; his mother said she had unsuccessfully tried to get him to stay with her in another town.
After uploading the video, Mr Breazeale launched a crowdfunding campaign for Mr Dufresne. As at Tuesday afternoon, he had raised at least US$13,000, which he said he planned to give to Mr Dufresne.