James Iannazzo, a 48-year-old banker for Merril Lynch, ordered a smoothie from a Robeks outlet in Connecticut Saturday. The drink, ordered without the usual peanut butter, was intended for his son who has a peanut allergy.
At about 1:39PM, he called EMS to his home for his son who was taken to the hospital after suffering an allergic reaction to the beverage.
Iannazzo returned to the store in a rage, determined to find out who had made the drink, but the employees claimed they didn’t know before he demanded to see the manager.
An employee tells the father, who was unhinged at this point, to leave the store. In a TikTok video recorded by one of the employees, Iannazzo is heard unleashing a slew of expletives including telling one employee “You’re a f-ing immigrant loser.” He is also seen throwing the drink which hits an employee in the shoulder.
Here is the TikTok video of Iannuzzo’s rampage:
Fairfield County police arrived at the scene after Iannazzo had left. They say Iannazzo indeed ordered the smoothie without peanut butter but the employees assert he had failed to mention his son’s peanut allergy.
They say Iannazzo turned himself in without incident. Police charged him with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass.
Iannazzo issued a statement following the incident saying:
My actions at Robeks were wrong, and I deeply regret them. They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely.
He went on to say about his son:
After he started to drink his smoothie, my son lost the capacity to breathe properly; his lips and face swelled up, and he required an EpiPen shot, but it did not offer him relief. I called 911. My son then went to the bathroom, threw up and fell unconscious to the floor. He threw up again. My wife gave him another EpiPen while I called 911 again. Thank God, he is doing okay.
Frank J Riccio Jr, Iannazzo’s attorney, said his client “wholeheartedly regrets” the incident. Riccio said Iannuzzo feared for his son’s life. After attempts to treat the son at home failed, Riccio said Iannuzzo called the ambulance to rush him to a hospital.
When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear. He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress.
Iannuzzo was subsequently fired from his position as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch following the incident.
Said Bill Halldin, a spokesman for the Bank of America, the parent company of Merrill:
Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind. We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.
Iannuzzo is ordered to appear in Superior Court in Bridgeport CT on February 7.
We can appreciate the fear and anger James Iannuzzo must have felt after his son reacted and went into anaphylactic shock from the drink, and we completely understand his desire to confront the person who made the smoothie despite his instructions not to include peanut butter.
But intimidating employees, yelling ethnic slurs, and throwing the drink goes way too far and the video shows the situation could well have escalated into violence had Iannazzo gained entrance behind the counter.
We can’t know for sure whether Iannuzzo warned of his son’s peanut allergy when he ordered the drink, but he did specify to omit the peanut butter. That said, knowing people (especially teens) often make mistakes, upon receiving the drink he should have plainly stated his son had a severe peanut allergy and double-checked with the employee that made the drink whether it contained peanut butter.
What do you think: should the father have been arrested and fired? You be the judge and let us know below.
- Fairfield man charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias after confrontation at Robeks loses job — Hartford Courant
- Man arrested at smoothie shop goes viral on TikTok — WKBN-TV
- NOT SO SMOOTH Merrill Lynch banker James Iannazzo arrested & fired after ‘racist rant & throwing smoothie in peanut allergy row’ — The Sun
The father was totally out of line.
He ordered from a place that he knows uses peanut products and should have reasonably suspected cross contamination at a minimum.
My thoughts exactly! I wouldn’t even have gone in there to eat or drink.
Shakes anywhere besides home are a no no
Employees not trained and parents made a mistake.
Sad on both ends! So happy his son is doing well!
Do you know wether or not this boy had undergone peanut desensitization and can tolerate X amount of peanuts? Not every peanut allergy sufferer has to avoid cross contamination.
His behavior was reprehensible, and he deserved to be fired and arrested. Firstly, regardless of the situation, it is unacceptable to go on a racist rampage and threaten death to people, much less teenagers. Had the the store been negligent in some way, he should have complained to management and consulted with a lawyer about taking legal action.
Second, ABC 7 New York is reporting that he admitted that he did not notify them of his son’s allergy, simply asking for a smoothie “without peanut butter.” If true, that means that he was solely responsible for his son’s allergic reaction. So, he was not only making criminal threats and generally horrible comments, but doing so because of a mistake he made.
As anyone with allergies knows, there is a big difference between something made without peanut butter and something made with no trace amounts of peanuts. There are many reasons why someone might ask a restaurant to omit an ingredient that don’t require careful avoidance of cross contamination. You cannot reasonably expect others to read minds, nor can you expect them to assume all customization requests are due to severe allergies. He should have clearly stated that it needed to be made without traces of nuts due to an allergy.
He was wrong but you need to look at this in context. So many people resort to videos and not the whole story. He said he told them to omit peanuts and they did not resulting in a severe allergic reaction that did NOT resolve with two epi pens. He had to call 911 to get his son emergency treatment. His son could have died and this was the basis of his anger and suspect their flippant responses when he asked for the manager. He should apologize personally to those employees. We ALL say and do things we later regret. He has already lost his job and been humiliated with being arrested and his behavior being posted online. He deserves mercy and his sentence should be anger management classes. My prayer his that he finds a better job soon since we all need to work.
Your assumptions are incorrect. His request was to make the smoothie without peanut butter. There is no mention that they did not follow his request. For people with food allergies cross-contamination can be very serious and many restaurants/fast food places advise people to let them know if the product is being made for someone with an allergy. If so, the product is made using fully cleaned blenders, utensils, etc… Mr. Iannuzzo did not mention his son’s allergy at the time the smoothies was ordered – only to omit the peanut butter. Zero tolerance is the norm today for racist and threatening behavior – companies do not want the liability this presents. This unfortunate incident will follow Mr Iannuzzo for a long time. A truly costly mistake that won’t be resolved with just anger management.
There is no mention that they did not follow his request because they refused to discuss who made the drink. What he did was wrong without a doubt. The staff saying things like “There are four of us here so we cant know who made it” is what set him off. Had someone responded in a more professional way this may have went much differently.
Make your own smoothie if you’re child has a deadly allergy, teenagers aren’t old enough or paid enough to be as “Professional” as your asking for, the job isn’t professional im amy way so expecting more is delusional
I agree with you. Whether he requested no peanuts or no peanut butter is irrelevant.
I agree with you 110%. He reacted wrong and let his emotions get the best of him. Not condoning what he said and hoping he finds another job as well.
I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts!!
Well said 👍🏻👍🏻💕🙏🏻
I have a 6 year old son with food allergies. Any time we eat out or I order something to go, I specify that her has allergies and what they are. Any place that I have been to has been more than happy tp accommodate, go back and read ingredients on items and even let us know what is not safe for him to have. It’s on ME as a parent to make sure that they employees understand the possibility of a severe reaction and if there is no way for cross contamination to be avoided, then they can let me know and we would go elsewhere. His actions were disgusting. I can understand being upset at seeing your child have an allergic reaction, but being angry doesn’t just suddenly make you go into a racist tirade, that was who he was before this incident ever occurred.
Maybe he should have been fired but I think the real question is did the staff member get fired for messing up an order that resulted in a near fatality??? No one seems to be thinking about this at all. They only chalk it up to an error made by an inexperienced teenager. Well I’ll sorry but that’s just not good enough!!!!!!!
There is no evidence that the smoothie maker messed up the order. James Iannazzo asked for no peanut butter, which is not the same as disclosing a peanut allergy and asking for a smoothie to be made with no trace amounts of peanuts.
Moreover, those who are severely allergic to peanuts (e.g. being in the same room as an open bag of peanuts) should not be consuming anything made in kitchen where cross-contamination is possible.
I have to disagree with you. I have had MANY orders messed up. I have asked for ingredients to me omitted and they were still added. I don’t have any allergies, but if I did I would be VERY specific and double check. Even moreover if it was for my child. He thinks they are “stupid high school kids” & “immigrant losers” yet he put his child’s life in their hands? Sounds like a negligent parent to me. Unless he explicitly stated the allergy I see no reason to fire an employee because of an easily made mistake. They make the same drinks over and over and probably have the ingredients memorized. I am willing to bet money that if the mother had ordered the drink this wouldn’t have happened. Anyone that is the primary caregiver for a child with a severe allergy would do better than he did.
Teenager fired? You have no idea what he said to them. It could be cross contamination. Do better.
In the heat of the moment. He did what any parent would do. The only thing he did here that I see as a crime. Is he assaulted one of the girls with a drink that nearly killed his son’s life. He didn’t deserve to be fired but those girls behind the counter deserve to be fired and I hope he sues.
I agree. and where was the manager? You can never assume a teenager would get the order right. He requested specifically not to include any peanuts, but they made the drink like they usually do. I say it’s their fault. And she should be fired. Her behavior was just as bad as his. His behavior is understanding. Any parent would be unhinged if their child almost died because the girl in the shop didn’t do what was requested.
Any GOOD parent would have been by his child as they’re suffering a serious allergic reaction instead of abandoning him for “revenge”.
And GOOD parent would have gone through appropriate channels to file a complaint about cross-contamination to ensure other customers with severe allergies don’t experience the same issue.
Any GOOD parent would realize that those teenagers are someone else’s children and should be treated the way he wants his own child to be treated, even if they made a mistake. (Unless you’re truly okay with having your children be mistreated at their workplace. Your children aren’t perfect and deserve some grace from their family members and strangers alike.)
Any GOOD parent would have realized those teenagers are someone else’s kids, who deserve to be treated with respect even if they made a mistake as much as his own kids.
From this comments section, you can see how lots of parents are much more reasonable when faced with the same, terrible situation. Responsible parents won’t even let their severely allergic children die at places with potential contaminants. Lots of parents choosing to write to management to ensure the same mistakes don’t threaten anyone else’s life instead of acting out.
Absolutely not. This is in NO way what “any parent would do.” Many people have had kids go in to anaphylaxis and we did not go unleash a tirade of insults, racial slurs and physical violence on the workers! It is absolutely bananas to me that ANY parent thinks that is the norm. In the few instances that this has happened, we went back to ask some questions to try to understand if a mistake was made somewhere, or if it was cross contamination, or if our son had developed a new allergy. Mistakes happen – even parents make them. AND by his own account, he did not even tell them about the allergy! So there is no indication that they even made a mistake. Cross contamination can very easily happen at a place like this.
It is the parent’s responsibility to safeguard the child. Teenagers make mistakes. We all do. You can’t stake your child’s life on the performance of a minimum wage worker. If you want a nonallergenic smoothie, make it at home.
Do we know his son REALLY was taken to the hospital? It seems like a very convenient excuse…because anyone THAT sensitive would have stressed firmly with every order…I’m just not buying this excuse….any rant would have included, “You almost killed my son!” That is a huge omission for the crux of issue
this is not factually correct
I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think he should have been fired from his job. While what he said and did was wrong on all levels, it had nothing to do with Merrill Lynch. He wasn’t on the job, using per diem, etc. Unless they have a policy for firing an employee for any reprehensible behavior committed in their personal life, they should have left this alone. Let the authorities do their job.
But the company had every right to fire him. People like this bring bad press and can also affect a company’s reputation. I honestly don’t blame them. I would’ve fired him too. This isn’t just some situation where your boss somehow comes across your blackout drunk videos and pictures on facebook, this is a man who screamed at a couple of teenage girls, assaulted one with a drink, and then charged at their door with clear intent to break into their backroom area. Would you want this person to be the face of your company?
Would you allow a man who is unable to manage his anger manage your portfolio? Would you feel safe working with a man who gets violently angry? As a few commenters have mentioned, even if his anger were justified, his reaction is still wildly inappropriate.
And even if you aren’t an immigrant yourself, surely you’d feel uncomfortable working with someone who is xenophobic?
He is also attracting a lot of negative press right now, so past and future clients may not want to work with him. Before his Merrill Lynch profile was taken down, it stressed how he was a family man, etc., which, in your words, “has nothing to do with Merrill Lynch.” But this is a tactic to make clients trust their advisors. Now that his violent and racist side has been exposed, his reputation is tarnished, which affects his relationship with his clients (some of whom may be immigrants). Of course the bank is wise to let him go.
I agree with you. I am personally taking my business out of Merrill Lynch. This is not the first time they have been unsupportive of allergy issues. The father was completely out of line AND it is completely understandable.
I can imagine a guy with an anger management problem like this probably wasn’t very beloved in the workplace to start with. I’ve known people like this guy in the workplace, and they are hell to deal with. So it might have offered Merrill Lynch an easy out.
Acting out and feeling helpless when this plays out. Unfortunately you can only point the finger at yourself for these actions not acceptable. But someone loosing there job while off the clock due to the use of social media. I don’t know if this acceptable either the day and age of forgiveness instead of wreckless behavior on both parties. Needs some thought I can only pray for everyone involved. Yes some feelings were hurt, A life was almost taken in the end a carrying father lost his lively hood at closer to retirement age. I fear these emotions everyday with my 15 year old. Prayers to all parties involved.
The only moral human being in this entire comment section. I commend your empathy and good will for both parties.
He DID NOT lose his job “due to the use of social media” he lost his job due to his behavior. You are accusing those employees of reckless behavior when they have said very clearly, hevrequested no peanut butter, and DID NOT say anything about no peanuts on anything. This could easily have been a case of cross contamination that HE as the father did not ensure to notify those fixing something his deathly allergic son would consume. You in fact have now basically said they are lying, and were being negligent without even an ounce of proof. He hasn’t even denied what they said to be true, further giving credence to what they say. Simple fact he was in the wrong 100% because of his behavior and was held responsible because of social media.
Tell me people who are defending him, if it turns out there are security cameras, etc. with audio showing without doubt that when he placed his order all ge saud was no peanut butter, will you then admit this whole scenario is 100% on his shoulders?
I work hard to choose food establishments that are knowledgeable and can accommodate
I would never unfairly choose a restaurant that uses a lot of foods with my son’s allergens. I wouldn’t make demands when they’re understaffed and busy.
When I am able to work with the restaurant I thank them. I treat them with respect. Now what will happen? Will we not be able to do this anymore because of this man’s reprehensible actions???
Thanks Vanessa. You’re being very reasonable to the people who serve you.
Ten years ago, my son almost died because he was accidentally served a peanut butter milkshake at Shake Shack. If concern is your true motivation, you take it to the top. They made sweeping operational changes — no police or lawyers necessary. Screaming slurs and throwing food at the customer service teenagers while exploiting your kid’s suffering is weak and ineffective. Breathtakingly selfish. He made it about himself. On behalf of food allergy families and customer service providers everywhere, I issue a galactic SHAME ON YOU to this coward. Also sending healing mojo to the allergic child and the abused staff.
Amy—You nailed it. This was about him. The dad messed up and his kid suffered the consequences. To avoid responsibility, guilt, and shame, he pointed the finger elsewhere.
My son is allergic to peanuts. When he suffered from anaphylactic shock and had to go to the ER, my focus was on him and his recovery. Throwing a tantrum like this was an immature emotional reaction to the situation. This dad needs coaching/therapy/support to become a responsible adult and role model for his son.
Regardless of who was right, anyone with an allergy should avoid Robeks entierly. And anyone with food sensitivities. They don’t seem to take these things seriously at all.
Also, he was probably fired more because they wanted to get rid of him. He seems to be an unpleasant person, and probably got angry often. That isn’t fun in an office.
All things considered, everyone in this story looks quite bad.
I believe his actions were those of an father irate over something that could of ended in the death of his son. While his actions are not acceptable the situation should of been looked at as a whole. We would be talking about the horrible smoothie shop if his child would of died. I think if people were honest they could at least see where his anger and fear were coming from. In my opinion Merrill Lynch failed at recognizing this and in turn comes off as a judgmental and uncaring company. Time off and some type of mandatory counseling would of made me think more if this company. Merrill Lynch you messed up!
The father never specified to the employee that the drink was being made for someone with a severe peanut allergy. He simply said “no peanuts”. He should have been a responsible parent and let the staff know about the peanut allergy.
If he cared about his child, he would have made certain that the employee knew about the allergy. He didn’t, and it almost cost his child his life. I can totally understand where his emotions came from, but it was his fault that his child almost died. And then he went and intimidated a bunch of young girls, threw a drink at them, and then charged at their backroom door.
Why wasn’t he at the hospital with his child? Why did he leave his kid to go scream at some minors? Dude has anger issues, and I don’t blame the company for firing him. He’s a liability and obviously isn’t worth the bad press. Of course we’re all human and anger can get the best of us, but an adult should know to take a moment to cool off before attempting to confront a possibly highly emotional situation. He did not act like an adult. He behaved like an angry man child and terrorized some teenage girls so he could feel better about himself.
He messed his life up, no one else made him make the choices he carried out that day. And as an adult, you make choices. And then live with the consequences.
He doesn’t have to specify what allergies him or his family has. It’s private medical information protected by HIPPA. The workers should have made sure that the drink was made without cross contamination with peanut products. If the kid died would you still defend these girls against manslaughter charges?
People forget that there are health codes that workers must adhere to and receive training for it. Those codes exist to protect customers from things like this.
However, the moment he broke the law in throwing the smoothie is when he is in the wrong. That is assault.
Please look up what HIPAA is. It has zero to do with a person disclosing their own personal medical conditions. Sure, he can choose not to disclose his child’s allergy, but then he runs the risk of cross contamination. There are very specific procedures to prevent that and unless the food workers are made aware how would they know they need to be put into place? Are you suggesting that they follow allergy protocol for EVERY smoothie that they make?
Yes, that’s what the health codes state. You are to insure that everything you make is with the customer in mind. Did you work in restaurants? No? Then you don’t know what you’re talking about.
As a worker in a restaurant, it is your job to ensure that none of the product you handle can cross contaminate another product. If you do then you need to clean everything, including the machines, to remove said cross contamination. Otherwise, people die.
First of all, it’s HIPAA and is in no way relevant to this situation. The man admitted to NYC ABC news he just said no peanut butter but didn’t mention his son’s allergy. He later contradicted himself in his apology statement.
If your son has an anaphylactic peanut allergy, you don’t order him a peanut butter smoothie and say “hold the peanut butter”.
Anyone dealing with severe allergies knows the risk of cross-contamination and it was absolutely foolish for him to expect these employees could guarantee there was no cross-contamination (especially if he didn’t even mention the allergy).
Check out Robek’s Menu online where it clearly states their products may contain one or more allergens. They also advise to inform a team member of any allergies. https://robeks.com/assets/files/robeks-menu-printable.pdf
You definitely do need to specify an allergy, how else is the person handling your order supposed to know that “no peanuts” isn’t merely personal preference but something that could actually kill you? And I really don’t understand why you wouldn’t if you know you would have a deadly reaction if even a little hint of the ingredient is in your order.
Do you tell your doctor if you’re allergic to any sort of medication? Or do you really have so little value for your own life that you’ll be vague about something that could kill you because “muh privacy”? Get real, dude.
My comment is to Richard. This comment reply thing is strange.
HIPAA has no bearing here whatsoever. And if people do not specify the allergy, they have no reasonable expectation that any allergy protocols will be taken. I don’t like olives but I am not allergic. If I order something and say, no olives, and that is all I say, my ONLY expectation is simply that they will not put olives in the dish. I do NOT expect that they have washed utensils or changed gloves or taken any other special care – why would they? For my son, though – we specifically say he has a peanut and tree nut allergy and we have to avoid any contact. that is VERY different. (We also don’t go to smoothie places, fwiw, because it is just too hard to avoid contamination there, in our opinion. so it isn’t worth the risk.)
You have made several comments here. Do you have a child with life threatening allergies?
I did not reply to Arnold in the above comment. I can not delete my comment. My apologies to Arnold.
No need to apologize, but thanks anyway!
He should not have been fired! This is his kid! People don’t know the whole story, maybe he did tell them, maybe he did ask about cross contamination… It’s some shitty little teenager that’s in charge of this store, posting on tik tok?! She egged this patron on and unless you have a kid with allergies, you know nothing! That little girl is lucky it wasn’t my kid!
And then you’d be in jail for assault and labeled a coward for beating a minor, which is a label you’d rightly deserve. These are teenagers, and from their point of view, an angry man enters the store. Screaming and cursing at them. He’s already in confrontational mode, how are the girls supposed to react? When they have no knowledge of how violent this man will act? If he has a gun? If he will actually hurt them?
And it doesn’t matter how angry you are, this is no way to behave towards anyone. He’s a grown man. He should have went through the proper channels to address the situation, instead of going to the store and looking like an angry man child. He ruined his life. He also almost murdered his son, by not telling the employee that the smoothie was being made for someone with a severe peanut allergy.
And why is the minor responsible for how a grown man behaved? It doesn’t matter how much anyone eggs you on, you don’t behave in the manner that he did. And I didn’t see them egging him on. He came in looking for a fight, screaming and name calling as if he wanted someone to give him a reason to hurt them. One girl stood her ground instead of simpering like a good little customer service agent and I give kudos to her. These kids and adults who work in the industry don’t deserve the daily abuse they receive from people like him and you.
If your kid has a severe allergy? Then be a responsible parent and let the person preparing your food/drink know. Or just stay at home and prepare your own food. I really don’t understand why these idiots have kids with severe allergies but they take chances ordering food that could potentially kill them just from a little cross contamination. What kind of parent does that?
So youre saying you would assault a 16 year old girl? Get your priorities together, Tricia. He came in guns blazin’ being racist towards minors who were confused. His son getting sent to the hospital was tragic, but he could’ve sued for the store for everything. We are in a global pandemic, there is a reason why businesses are understaffed and teenagers are in charge of stores. His behavior was horrific and even though it came from a place of anger for his son, if it wasn’t specified peanut allergy and to clean all utensils that might be contaminated, it could’ve been cross contamination. P
Yes ,remember his inappropriate behavior excuses his child nearly being killed. Let’s be clear no one know what actually happened. This guys could have been a jerk to the employees off camera and then thy put peanut butter in his drink to retaliate. If you didn’t think anyone was allergic to it you wouldn’t hesitate.
Anyone defending one side in this matter outs themselves as biased.
The guy should have been arrested.
The company needs to be sued.
But will the press give that the attention it deserves. The issue of job incompetence is a notional crisis they have largely avoided. It starts in DC and is in every local jusridiction.
Example the prosecutor of this county has sent the clear message , I am more concerned about being re elected , that the fact the a child may or may not have been killed by a companies incompetence and negligence. Great message.
He cares so much about his kid that he called 911 at 1:39 & was back at the smoothie shop w/ smoothie in hand in order for them to call 911 on him at 2:26? He clearly says that his son “almost ended up in the hospital” in the video. He was fired for being racist and assaulting a minor on video. He KNEW they were kids and did it anyway. Should the parents of the girl he assaulted be able to go to his home and kick his ass while yelling anti Italian slurs because of what he did to their child?
Its a sad day when everyone ignores the fact that these young ladies did not even ask what he was upset over or try to defuse the situation. While I do not agree with his language none of you knows how you would behave if you thought your son was going to die. It confuses me that people are more concerned about taking video’s and posting them to tick toc and no one is telling these young individuals they were just as unprofessional. Back in the day we were taught the customer is always right and my children have been taught respect should go both ways. Journalism can be very one sided I pray people learn the saying until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes try not to judge. Thank god his son is ok however the outcome could have been very different.
I agree Suzanne. They’re young and nearly adults. They should of received training on dealing with irate customers. Instead, they decide to go on their phones (or were already on them) and make it a spectacle. They could of easily passed along the information to someone more appropriate in answering his concerns or called the cops after giving him some contact information for the company or management. Was he wrong? Did he act wrong? Absolutely.
Yes, they are almost young adults and they handled themselves with more maturity than James Iannazzo. How would you react if a man larger than yourself screamed at you, threw a smoothie at you and tried to get physically closer to you. The girls even told him to contact management and didn’t retaliate after he made the first offensive move.
It was a stressful situation for everyone and the girls easily could have thrown everything in reach at him to get him to back off. Instead, they called the police, hands trembling, trying stand their ground and protect each other. They were as professional as they could have been in that situation.
And Suzzanne, surely you don’t think “customers are always right” if they are violent and racist? (Unless you’re an entitled Karen…) Tik Tok can be silly and often idiotic, but without it, the girls would have little proof of what transpired. Cameras can be a good way of protecting yourself, especially if you feel threatened in public.
He was screaming, cursing and demanding to know who made the smoothie. They were too scared to tell him. Would you have said it was you when he was acting like that? Just like his precious son was in danger, so we’re they. Or do they not matter?
The father has stated he didn’t mention the allergy. If you’re ordering something for someone who has a severe allergy, you let the people know who are preparing your food and drink. And sure, I’ll give teenagers some slack when they’re dealing with an angry man barging into their place of work and behaving in a threatening manner. The three girls he made demands of/screamed/cussed at/assaulted/etc weren’t even on the shift that made the smoothie. And I’m sure if he had entered the establishment and behaved like a competent and rational adult, explaining the situation, then those girls would have happily helped him.
But he didn’t. And the whole situation could have been avoided if this man had remembered to specify the smoothie was being made for someone who was allergic to a specific ingredient. He also could have behaved like an adult and went through the proper channels to resolve the situation, instead of choosing to harass three teenage girls who had no part in making the smoothie anyway.
And there would have been no calming this man down. You seriously think anything they could have said would have helped the situation?? The man was obviously acting crazy. Staff members should not have to put up with abusive customers and I pray your children never have to deal with a situation like this, because not many are equipped to deal with an emotionally distraught and angry grown man, let alone three teenage girls working a minimum wage job. And they used that technology to defend themselves. Everyone is recording stuff nowadays to protect themselves in these exact types of situations, yet we’re really gonna rag on a teenage girl for using her phone to record proof of what happened??
Jeez, you people boggle my mind, jumping through hoops to make these girls out to be villains. They didn’t deserve to deal with this. People keep giving the grown man a pass for acting like a lunatic, but I’m positive these girls were terrified and their adrenaline was also pumping. Dealing with an irate customer is one thing, but dealing with an aggressive, angry customer having a mental break down? Even most police don’t know how to professionally handle those types of situations and they receive way more training for these specific types of situations. And you all expect some teenage girls, working at a smoothie shop and making minimum wage, to have been able to respond in a way that would defuse this situation??? Seriously?
He’s a grown man. He should have acted like one. I don’t care what you’re going through in your life, that never gives anyone an excuse to harm others or behave the way he did. Especially when he’s the very reason his kid almost died. Just nonsense
If My child would have this kind of very very dangerous allergies………..WHY WOULD YOU EVER ORDER A DRINK THAT HAS A VERY HIGH CHANCE OF A PROBLEM ………
REALLY MOST KIDS I KNOW WANT A McDonalds ……..this was a drink he wanted and yes he is responsible for his actions ….. .
You have unleashed a very dangerous amount of hate towards a group of young girls . Who are you to point out their heritage. We are all from another place
I hope your son gets better. I hope you visited the very young women have a talk
and tell them how deeply sorry you are……. I will pray for all of you …… .
Anyone who has a child with severe allergies knows not to eat where nuts are being used in other foods. All packaging refers to “nuts processed in this facility” as a warning that cross contamination could occur.
The guy needs to get educated.
So fantastic now we will be paying for this guys unemployment.
1. He deserved to be arrested pitch the drink was a simple assault.
2. It is clear he should sue Roebucks for the information on both the worker who prepared the drink and the company that manufactured the “purported “ cross contaminated ingredient. A “ Racist Triade “ does not in any way absolve Roebuks or the “contaminated” ingredient maker for their part in nearly killing a child . Yea folks you don’t go to the hospital to hang out with your buddies.
3. I’m done with Merrill Lynch. I have millions there by today they will be gone. I have Zero Tolerance for Persons or Companies that believe that the Constitution applies only when they agree. Yes folks I’ve hear the neo communist line “ the constitution only applies to government”. If you have this ethic as an individual or company , You are simply not American , we have a court system to deal with this and Merrill Lynch is only encouraging vigilantism as social norm.
There is no evidence so far hat he informed the workers of an allergy, only that he requested no peanut butter. That isn’t the same thing as disclosing an allergy and requesting the proper protocols for an allergen. I’m sure the Robeks has the necessary signage warning of possible cross contamination which would absolve them of liability. If not, he may have had a case had he not assaulted the young lady with the “evidence” He took no responsibility as a parent to make sure that his child was safe. Funny how his 17 is a child, but these 16 & 17 year olds aren’t. I know parents with children with food allergies, they are so careful to the point of obsession. As they should be. It’s their child’s life in the balance.
James, thank you and I agree with you. I’m pulling out of Merrill Lynch as well
On top of everything, he should be charged with endangering a minor. Unbelievable that he didn’t know how to safely order for his son. Announce the allergy. Place the order. Repeat the allergy. If you can, watch them make it. Upon delivery reconfirm the allergy. If at any time anyone is unsure or uncooperative, leave!! That is how a reasonable parent of an anaphylactic allergy child would act. Especially if the 17 year old has been dealing with this for life. There should be absolutely no doubt whether they were aware of the allergy! Unbelievable!!
Dar, your type of victim blaming is truly wrong. You clearly do not understand what it takes to navigate a restaurant with a life threatening allergy. “If I had a kid with allergies “ is not the same as having a child with allergies. While I agree that the father had an obligation to explicitly state that their child ad life threatening allergies, it does not excuse the people responsible for making the smoothly.
Ana, people cut corners at work all the time. Does it make it right? No. But companies basically make it to where their employees need to choose quantity over quality in order to ensure they still have a job at the end of the day.
Also, people with severe allergies are in the minority. The onus is on you, if you have a deadly allergy, to specify to the person making your order that you have a deadly allergy to a specific ingredient. A smoothie place isn’t like a restaurant that works with meat and actually has to pay attention to possible cross contamination.
These are smoothies. A blender or machine could have been used that had residual peanut on it. A typical customer probably wouldn’t notice it, and it would harm the efficiency of these employees if they cleaned that equipment every time a person made an order, especially during a rush hour.
In a perfect world, your qualms would make sense. But the world doesn’t operate like that. He should have specified the allergy and watched the order being made, if he actually had any value for his teenage son’s life. The video makes it look as if this isn’t some drive thru. You enter the shop, ask for a smoothie, and it’s made behind the counter. If he valued his son’s life, he would have explicitly stated the allergy and watched them make the drink.
You says it’s easy to say”if my kid had an allergy, I’d…” whatever. But seriously, people with no allergies specify “don’t add this ingredient” all the time. That doesn’t mean to the employee: clean everything before I make this specific order. But seriously I can’t wrap my head around entering a smoothie shop, asking for a peanut based smoothie but hold the peanuts, and then raging when my kid who is deathly allergic to peanuts almost dies. That screams irresponsible parent.
Don’t compare this to some girl walking down an alley way and getting raped. Because that is actual victim blaming. This? This is an irresponsible father who knew his kid was deathly allergic to something, yet didn’t have the common sense to mention said allergy or, y’know, actually watch the smoothie being made or else he would have remembered who the heck had made it. Maybe he is the one who actually plays on his phone too much.
Leo, you have twisted my words and it is unacceptable. You have no right to accuse me of comparing this to a rape victim. You very honestly should watch who you are calling an idiot.
You have come here to repeatedly and angrily express your opinion. Do you comprehend that most people here(including me) think that the father made major mistakes?
You fail to realize that most of us are extremely careful when ordering, are very appreciative for the inconvenience of following protocol, have numerous experiences of food establishments not taking allergies seriously or being sloppy or are antagonistic. You might be surprised to learn that my entire community will avoid any food establishment that isn’t allergy friendly.
The point is that this father watched his son almost die. Nobody knows how horribly they might react in that situation. It does not excuse his behavior. He was wrong.The Point is that anyone should have compassion and understanding for that father.
This is how all the allergy people I know order including us The fact that he didn’t know who made it kind of says it all to me that he didn’t go through the normal drawn out conversation about cross contamination, cleaning, etc I would expect. And still even with that cross contamination can always be an issue especially with some place that is using peanut butter all the time.
My question is, what was he hoping to gain from knowing who made the smoothie? What was he planning to do to that person?
I would just make him a smoothie at home. It’s the hand we have been dealt. I have many blessings and I am ok making my Sons food at home.
The girls probably made the smoothie in the same blender they used to make the peanut butter smoothie and got cross-contaminated. It’s not the same thing to say “no peanut butter” than to specify a peanut allergy. If he’d specified the allergy the girls would’ve had to use a different blender and the issue would’ve been avoided. It’s his fault.
Their menu clearly states: “Food may contain one or more potential allergens”.
He told WABC NY he didn’t mention a food allergy.
What’s his gripe?
Arnold, you seriously don’t understand that his gripe is that his child almost died?
Because HE didn’t tell the employees about the allergy. It’s his responsibility to keep his own kid alive. Just asking for “no peanut butter” is not how you do it with a kid that allergic, and he should absolutely know that by now.
He should be angry. At himself.
I think he was angry at his own failure as a parent and took it out on the franchise employees.
Why did the employee, who claims to have years of experience dealing with angry customers, tell the customer she could not remember who made the smoothie, with such a negative attitude. So I worked in a bar, and I could remember who got what in the previous hour. Especially if they made a specific request. Why didn’t she apologize like a professional would. Instead of lying to dismiss the customer. A professional would always de-escalate the situation by apologizing, and offering assistance, instead of belittling the customer. The thing is she was bragging about how she could handle angry customers, but her brash reply only provoked him more. Even if you are a teenager. You still know how to do a good job, and have good customer service skills.
Do you really think an apology from the employee would’ve diffused Iannazzo’s anger? He came back not an hour after his son was first taken to the hospital, so he was clearly looking for a fight…besides, whatever the employee did or didn’t say, it doesn’t justify the racism/threats/assault that the employees were subjected to, plus a grown man like Iannuzzo should’ve been able to control himself better.
These are 16 to 17 year old girls like hell would would they tell an anger adult male who made the drink he already showed he was aggressive who knows what he would have done if he had one to single out
Do you really think an apology from the employee would’ve diffused Iannazzo’s anger? He came back not an hour after his son was first taken to the hospital, so he was clearly looking for a fight…besides, whatever the employee did or didn’t say, it doesn’t justify the racism/threats/assault that the employees were subjected to, plus a grown man like Iannuzzo should’ve been able to control himself better.
The behavior of both the employee and the father were reprehensible.
And we should not dismiss the employees’ actions. Today’s teens need to be held accountable for the behavior.
Clearly the man is wrong.
We don’t know what happened before the video started.
We don’t know how the smoothie was ordered.
Robek’s should train their employees better.
He was angry and fearful for his son’s life; however, he deserves some consequence. Rather than confronting a group of teens, he should’ve called corporate and explained the severity of the situation so that they could do training. He should’ve also requested proof of the training. I believe this was a lost opportunity in what we all strive for….Food Allergy Awareness! Unfortunately, because of how teen minds work, these employees will only remember this angry guy rather than what actually could’ve happened…a boy almost died.
I would like to call attention to the way the teens confronted this man. He could’ve been a lot more dangerous and their response only escalated his anger. I am not making excuses for his actions, but these employees need training on how to react to angry customers. For their own safety.
This was a tragic mistake that could have been avoided with very little effort. The father was very wrong but it was understandable. He never ever should have thrown the drink. He should have addressed this to the owner of the establishment in a written form. He should consider legal action.
I do not think the father should have been fired. This is not the first time Merrill Lynch has acted in an unsupported way toward allergy issues. I am taking my business with them elsewhere.
The father was over the top with his comments regarding immigration. not appropriate at all.
however, I was surprised in the earlier part of the video that the employees made no effort to apologize or express regret for the son who had the reaction – even if it was not 100% attributed to the smoothie. I do think stores have an obligation to post cross contamination risk signs prominently. Also if there risk of cross contamination why did. dad purchased a smoothie there?
It’s disgusting that most employees, teenage middle aged, whatever, take no pride, no responsibility, and have no respect for customers, for the establishment they work for, etc.. These girls clearly show their indifference and self righteousness towards an upset customer. Yes, the father crossed the line, but those girls provoked it. Should he have been fired from his own job, NO. Those girls should be fired. From the beginning of the recording, did the girl ask what the problem was and apologize? No.
The behavior of these young adults is evident they they weren’t raised to respect anyone but themselves. Major parenting fail.
Families have different comfort zones. Perhaps a small amount of cross contact isn’t a concern. Perhaps the child has undergone desensitization therapy and can tolerate so many peanuts. Everyone above stating that they should not have been eating there in the first place are making grand assumptions.
His son almost died at the hands of uncaring, unmoved teens. Now they’re heroes because of TikTok. We live in a fuc*** up world. Will they be trained on food allergies?
People with (family members with) serious food allergies know better than to order a smoothie where the main ingredient is the allergen. Asking the establishment to not add the allergen is fine if your worst reaction might be a stuffy nose or itchy throat. If you’re concerned about an anaphylactic reaction you do not risk an employee error or cross-contamination when ordering food. This guy failed to protect his child, went on a racist rant over his loathing, and now has to find a new job.
The fact that people side with the teenagers over the father who’s son almost died is astounding.
A life is worth more than a sur.
I truly hope that in the months this story has been out, and new information is available that you do not think this way still. It was not just a slur. He asked for no peanut butter and did not state his son had a peanut allergy. It was his fault his son consumed the peanuts, since with no allergy stated allergy precautions didn’t take place. He has only himself to blame. Next, instead of being with his son, less than an hour after his son had nearly died, he decided to attack the workers instead of being with son. Combine that with the slurs, throwing a drink at employees, trying to break down the door so he could assault the employees, he clearly wasn’t focusing on life of his son or the workers. He is in every way wrong in this situation. The employees had no idea if he had a weapon on him or not. Imagine if he did, real workers have been killed in disputes like these. He also deserved to be fired, if he cannot control his anger long enough to stay with his dying son, who keep in mind he could have never seen again, his anger management is beyond saving. That is not safe in the workplace or with clients. The racism was always there, and just shined its ugly head when he got angry. This entire situation start to finish, was his fault.
I watched this video and I am still shaken. I did not see an escape route in the back of the store. I keep thinking about the Wendy’s employee (16 years old) who was shot in the head by a customer upset about barbeque sauce. Those were some bold girls who took this video, but I wish they would have been instructed to run out the back and call the police if someone threatens them. I thank the Lord they were not shot.
First of all I have several food allergies. Once I found out I stopped eating out to be safe. I also have a child, so I know how he must have felt to almost lose his son. However these are teen workers who don’t understand or grasp the consequences of a slight mistake he’s yelling at. The workers don’t help by one not providing him with a manager or a corporate number. Smoothies are easy and not expensive to make. So why couldn’t he just make his son one at home.You can even get non peanut butter. The guy was right to be upset but the things he said and throwing the drink at teens were not right. The video cost him his job and he’s not going to have an easy time finding another one. Also he was arrested and charged and apologized. But the thing I don’t get is that their was no apology from the company or any consequences for the teens who were yelling back not coroperating and one girl you can hear one say she didn’t care when the guy mentioned that his son was in the hospital. Mistakes were made on both sides. That’s all I’m saying. And the guy deserves to just learn from this and just let him move on.
The fact that this father didn’t know even who made the smoothie for his son is a pretty strong indicator to me that he didn’t have an informed conversation about his son’s allergies checking in with them on their cleaning protocols, etc. Most parents of peanut allergic kids would NOT even order something from a setting like this. I would not. 2nd, it was reported that he ordered a peanut butter smoothie without peanut butter, no allergy mentioned. He may have thought he mentioned or maybe he did. But if your conversation was so brief you don’t even know who made it, you probably weren’t communicating well.
Merrill Lynch is a private company and they are under no obligation to employ someone with so few anger management skills that has become a liability. I don’t know why random people think they get a vote. Some people may leave, some others may sign on for showing these values. I am not saying the father wasn’t justified being angry. But honestly, he should have been angry with himself for his lack of conversation with staff and follow through on clean blender procedure, etc. Minimum wage workers make mistakes. Every place is overly busy and understaffed right now. And those of us with life threatening allergies shouldn’t be putting our lives in their hands.
There were plenty of other routes to take for this guy to follow up. If as a full grown adult you don’t have the presence of mind when you are feeling hot headed to step away, deep breathe, maybe it’s time for you to be pushed down a notch or 2. If you watch the video, the first thing one of the girls says is “please don’t yell at us”. He ramped it up from there. I don’t know why everyone thinks the under 18’s should be able to talk an irrational swearing angry middle age man down. There was NO reason for him to return at that time, there was no way that was going to be productive. And I’m concerned what may have happened had someone stepped up as being the one who made the smoothie.
I am a healthcare professional and have food allergies that developed as an adult.I also worked my way through school at a fast food establishment and as a teenager, was a shift manager. A few thoughts:
As to the comment about where was the manager, perhaps the manager on duty was one of the teenagers.
By the father’s own admission he did not notify the employees that his child had an allergy.
Personally, I do not eat at establishments where there is an environment conducive to cross-contamination. This includes ice cream shops, bakeries, fast food restaurants that serve items to which I’m allergic.
I’ve had several incidents of accidental ingestion of an allergen while at work in an operating room. Although surrounded by providers whose job it is to keep people alive, it was nonetheless a very frightening experience.
As a healthcare professional, I ask for details when a patient states they have an allergy or a preference to avoid certain items. As a teenager without food allergies, I would have taken the customer at face value, which is why the allergic individual/ parent have to be specific.
I’ve been threatened at work and have had to call the police. I also called my immediate supervisor to advise of the situation.
Before assuming it was wrong for the father’s employer to terminate him, is there a code of conduct as a condition of employment?
Dude ordered an item that normally has peanuts and asked that it be peanut free.
He did NOT specify it needed to be peanut free due to an allergy.
From what I have read, there is no proof that the employees failed to omit peanuts.
The reaction was due to cross-contamination.
Many food allergy people have stated that they would NEVER order from this particular chain due to the risk of cross contamination.
Then after his son reacted, he went back, irate, and verbally and physically assaulted MINORS.
He deserves all of the consequences that have befallen him.
Talk to the manager.
Take it to corporate.
Don’t attack minors who it sounds like didn’t really do anything wrong.
We have to realize that when we order food out, there is ALWAYS going to be a chance of cross-contamination.
Heck, even in my own home, I have made mistakes.
Asking a 16yo who doesn’t live with ana food allergies daily to ensure a food is 100% free of an allergen is putting a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
I have allergies to multiple tree nuts and bananas. I just don’t buy smoothies, period. Anywhere!
I also don’t buy coffee at coffee bars that have tree nut coffee blends. I also don’t buy salads at restaurants that have nuts in any of their salads. I ask to read ingredient labels. I don’t go to bakeries or ice cream stores.
It is not up to a teenager in a smoothie store to keep my family safe, it is up to me.
As a person with a LIFELONG (45 years and counting!) anaphylactic allergy to egg, I can say unequivocally that this father is 100% in the WRONG. He absolutely should be arrested for assault and did not remotely do enough to safeguard the life of his own SON.
The onus is always, *ALWAYS* on the person (or guardian) with the food allergy to 1) disclose both the allergen and severity if you deem it necessary, and 2) ascertain whether that establishment can accommodate your request to your satisfaction.
If they cannot, **you move along**. This father was either clueless or lazy. Either way, HE risked his son’s life, and took it out on the employees. Abhorrent behavior. And talk about entitled!!
Side note, as brought up by the author’s follow up article that lead me here: It would be …nice, i guess? … if establishments did ask about allergies when people request that ingredients be left out, but that is not at something I see as remotely necessary, when the majority of people going to that establishment likely only ask for customizations based on taste/dietary preferences. Yes, about 10% of the USA has food allergies… but that means ~9/10 people ordering something likely do not., let alone one of extreme severity. Imagine if you ordered, say, a burger with no mustard and no onion and a milkshake with no whipped cream, and you always got the follow up of, “is there an allergy to mustard and onion in your party? is there something in the whipped cream you are allergic to?” It would get excessive.
So just be your own best advocate, and, if you are a parent, do exactly the same for your children to show them how to do that for themselves.
And don’t ever, EVER, be like this guy.
The pain of the situation is eased when there is someone else to blame. “If it weren’t for you” my life would be happy. Lesson: Ultimate responsibility for your happiness and that of your family does not rest with others. If his son was so dangerously allergic and if such a reaction would result from the father over a mistake, why chance it? Why put that burden on someone else, especially a low wage teenager who is a total stranger? The world is not supposed to bow down to your or to your son’s special needs. Ultimately, those are YOUR responsiblity. I would imagine that they did leave the peanut butter ingredient out, but peanut oil is present is all kinds of food product so if it means your the kid’s death, better have other measures in place.