The former regional manager of a Philadelphia-based Starbucks has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. According to the suit, Shannon Phillips believes that she was terminated from her position solely because she was white.
From the Daily Beast:
Shannon Phillips alleges she’d been a “loyal” Starbucks employee for 13 years, managing hundreds of stores in several states, when she was one of several white employees wrongfully terminated in the aftermath of the April 2018 arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson. The two black men, both 23 at the time, were arrested at a Starbucks while waiting for a business meeting.
“Weeks after the arrests and surrounding media coverage, [Starbucks] took steps to punish white employees who had not been involved in the arrests, but who work in and around the city of Philadelphia, in an effort to convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident,” the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey alleges.
If you recall, we reported on this debacle here at The Root when it first went down.
Robinson and Nelson eventually settled the matter for an undisclosed amount, though a stipulation of their settlement required that the city launch a $200,000 entrepreneurship program for Philadelphia public high school students and that Starbucks partner with Arizona State University to fund the duration of their undergraduate education.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Starbucks declined to press charges and closed more than 8,000 stores throughout the country in order to conduct mandatory racial sensitivity training.
However, as the Daily Beast notes, in its efforts to correct course, Phillips alleges that the company was unjustified in terminating many of its white employees:
Phillips claims that a month after the arrests, Starbucks forced her to suspend a 15-year “white employee (who had not had any involvement in the arrests)” for “an allegation of discriminatory conduct” that she knew to be false.
In a meeting between the former employee and her superiors, Phillips was told her colleague allegedly paid non-white employees more than white employees. Despite providing information to refute the “factually impossible” allegations, the lawsuit states, Phillips was “ignored.” The lawsuit insists the allegations were baseless since Starbucks store managers do not determine employee salaries.
The day after the meeting, Phillips says she was called into a meeting to “negotiate her separation package as she was being terminated.”
In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Starbucks provided the following statement:
“We deny the claims of the lawsuit and are prepared to defend our case in court.”