'Karen, stop': Starbucks barista gifted $34,000 after woman's complaint backfires

A US Starbucks employee has been gifted $34,000.
A US Starbucks employee has been gifted $34,000. Photo credit: Amber Lynn Gillies/Facebook

A Starbucks barista in the US has collected more than US$22,000 ($34,000) after a woman's complaints about him on social media backfired.

San Diego barista Lenin Gutierrez was targeted by the woman - who has since been labelled a 'Karen' - in a Facebook post in which she complained she wasn't served due to her lack of face mask.

"Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I'm not wearing a mask (sic). Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption," the caption said.

But the post backfired, with social media users taking Gutierrez's side and labelling the woman 'Karen' - a term used to describe a customer who is unnecessarily demanding.

The post has been shared more than 48,000 times and received more than 100,000 reactions.

One person commented saying: "Then don't go there. Didn't you see the sign that said stupid people not allowed."

Another simply said: "Karen stop."

One Facebook user Matt Cowan, decided to set up a page for Gutierrez on GoFundMe.

In the two days since the page was created there have been over 2000 donors and 20,000 shares of the page.

Gutierrez shared a video with a face mask on, expressing his thanks.

"Everyone I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support and what everyone's doing is an honour to see all this happen."

He also posted another video sharing his side of the story.

"This lady came up and she didn't have a face mask on. I asked her, 'do you have a face mask?' and she told me 'no, I don't need one'."

"She started calling people sheep and left, and within a few minutes she came back and she asked for my name, she took a photo of me."

Gutierrez says he works at Starbucks to "fuel his dream of becoming a dancer."

"All I really want to be able to do is show dance to others… with this donation from GoFoundMe I can make these dreams a reality."

"So from the bottom of my heart thank you so much."