Friends say Starbucks worker died because he was afraid of taking off work for treatment

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Its been less than a week since Popeyeschicken sandwich took over Twitter and won the#ChickenSandwichwith Chick-fil-A. But a recent thread documenting the thoughts of a grieving friend after the untimely death of a Starbucks worker is casting a new light on the conversation around fast-food chains and the employees who keep them running.

Food writer Allison Robicelli shared the thread on Saturday about her friend James Farmer who died at 22 due to a kidney failure.A GoFundMe set up for his funeral costs on Aug. 12 said he died on Aug. 11. According to Robicelli, Farmer would skip his dialysis treatment as he was an hourly wage worker and couldnt afford to take off work hours.

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The people who serve you coffee and sandwiches, the people who barely get by because a living wage isnt in the best interest of shareholders, the people who so many believe dont deserve to be paid fairly: they are people, Robicelli wrote.

Robicelli explained that Farmer had health insurance but was afraid of taking off work and losing hourly pay.

James was worried about money, she wrote. He thought if he took a day off for dialysis, hed continue to have less hours on every weekly schedule.

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Another friend of Farmers told the Daily Dot, who asked to remain anonymous to comply with her employers policies about speaking to the media, added that he was burdened with heavy health insurance copays and costs due to his conditions.

Robicelli also said Farmer died about two weeks ago, and his family had to raise funds during this time for his funeral. This is the reality of those who work hourly jobs on Baltimores east side, she wrote.

He was a valued member of our team, impacted every member of our staff and every customer he came in contact with,read the description on the GoFundMe page set up by Smith and Charnette Burris. He passionately stood up for LGBTQIA rights, fashion, and good music. He was a dedicated worker and friend. This loss is immeasurable and we want to support his family in whatever way we can.

The fundraiser also raised more than $7,700, exceeding its goal of $7,500. There were a total of 186 donations, and a majority of the donations were made in the past two days.

Thank you for every donation, share, and kind word,Smith wrote in an update on Sunday. James family, friends, and coworkers are humbled by the generosity of strangers.

Robicelli isnt the first to use the #ChickenSandwich debate to scrutinize the layers of violations that are involved in the $3.99 sandwich. A recent Eater interview examined the Popeyes hype on Twitter, applying questions on everything from ICE raids at poultry farms to Popeyes wages rendering its own employees homeless.

Theres real, active harm being done by fast-food companies on every level of the food system from individual to global, Evan Hanczor, chef of Egg Restaurant that boasts its treatment of its employees and farmers, told Eater.

It doesnt give me much confidence about the ingredient quality, Hanczor said of the price of Popeyes sandwich. The price doesnt seem to suggest that they could possibly be sourcing chicken you could consider remotely humanely raised.

On Twitter, Robicellis thread resonated with many who shared their concern and support for Farmer, while some called for accessible dialysis care.

According to Glassdoor, a Starbucks barista makes an hourly wage between $9 and $10 in Baltimore, Maryland. The minimum wage in Baltimore is $10.

Its unclear if Starbucks has any benefits for its workers undergoing extensive treatments such as dialysis and what kind of leave it warrants to its workers for such issues. The Daily Dot has reached out to Starbucks for comments and will update if the company responds.

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