Philadelphia, PA — Shannon Phillips, a former regional manager at Starbucks, has filed a lawsuit for racial discrimination claiming that the coffee giant fired her after the highly-publicized arrest of two Black men just because she is white.
Phillips, who said she was a 13-year employee of Starbucks, said she was a regional manager who oversees stores in southern New Jersey, Delaware, parts of Maryland, and the Philadelphia area when employees at a Philadelphia location called 911 to report the trespassing of two Black men in April 2018.
The men, Rashon Nelson and Dante Robinson, who were apparently waiting inside the store for a business meeting, were arrested. A video of the incident went viral and sparked national outrage.
A month after the incident, Phillips claimed that she was ordered to suspend a white Starbucks manager of a store whose nonwhite employees were allegedly receiving less pay than white employees. When she objected and said that store managers don’t determine salaries which are set by a different division of the company, she was fired the next day.
She added in her lawsuit that the manager who her bosses wanted her to suspend had nothing to do with the arrest of the two Black men or the store where it happened, while the manager of the involved store, who was Black, did not receive any punishment.
Moreover, she stated that she regularly “received positive performance evaluations and related merit driven bonuses and salary increases.”
Phillips said in her lawsuit she would still have her job if she was not white. She is seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages.
Meanwhile, a representative for Starbucks released a statement denying Phillips’ lawsuit claims, stating, “We do not believe there is any merit to it and we’re prepared to present our case in court.”