Former Starbucks manager where black men were arrested says she was fired because she is white


A former Starbucks regional manager who was fired following the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia store is reportedly suing the company, alleging that her dismissal stemmed from her being white.

Shannon Phillips filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey on Monday alleging that she was the victim of racial discrimination, according to NBC News. She is looking to receive compensatory and punitive damages in response to the suit. 

In the filing, Phillips reportedly notes that she had been a longtime employee of the company when in April 2018, Starbucks staffers decided to call the police on two black men who had been sitting in a Philadelphia store without ordering anything. 

The men would later say that they were waiting to meet with a business associate. The two were arrested after police arrived and video of the event quickly generated national attention, with many calling for Starbucks to take action on anti-racism initiatives. 

The District Attorney’s Office said it declined to press charges because there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.

Starbucks quickly issued an apology to the individuals who were arrested, saying in a statement at the time that employees “clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.” The company also closed more than 8,000 stores in May 2018 to give its employees implicit bias training. 

Phillips claimed in the lawsuit that she “immediately took steps to learn additional information about the events” following the arrests. 

“[Phillips] took steps to ensure that the retail locations within her area were a safe and welcoming environment for all customers, regardless of race,” the suit said, NBC News noted. 

Phillips also alleged that she was ordered to suspend a white, 15-year-employee about a month after the incident. She claims that the employee was a Starbucks manager who had no involvement with the incident or the store where it took place. 

She also reportedly claimed that an African American manager who was responsible for store operations was not punished. Phillips said the reasoning she was given regarding the manager’s suspension stemmed from nonwhite employees being paid less than white staffers. 

The lawsuit said Phillips objected after pointing out that managers do not play a role in setting salaries. She was fired the next day, NBC News reported. 

“The situation is not recoverable,” managers told Phillips, according to the lawsuit. Phillips claimed in the suit that she would still be employed by the company if she wasn’t white. 

A Starbucks spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the company denies the claims in the lawsuit and that it is “fully prepared to present our case in court.”

Tags Lawsuit Racial discrimination Starbucks

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