A white woman who was fired from her regional manager position at Starbucks after two Black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store last year is now suing the company, alleging racial discrimination.
According to NBC News, the lawsuit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey. In the suit, Shannon Phillips, who worked for Starbucks for 13 years, said that following the arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, she “immediately took steps to learn additional information about the events … address strong community reaction” and also to “ensure the safety” of Starbucks’ employees of customers.
Phillips also noted that she “took steps to ensure that the retail locations within her area were a safe and welcoming environment for all customers, regardless of race.”
However, things reportedly went awry, when about a month following the arrests, Phillips was ordered to suspend a white employee who had been working with the company for 15 years. The employee was a manager, but reportedly had nothing to do with the arrests or the Philly store where they occurred.
The lawsuit claimed Phillips’ bosses told her that employees of color at the store of the manager they wanted her to discipline had been paid less than white employees. However, Phillips reportedly took issue with this, pointing out that managers have nothing to do with outlining pay.
By the next day, it was Phillips who was out of a job, with higherups claiming that “the situation is not recoverable.”
Phillips is now seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages, noting that she regularly “received positive performance evaluations and related merit-driven bonuses and salary increases.”
Starbucks, for its part, has rejected the allegations, with a spokesperson telling NBC, “We do not believe there is any merit to it and we’re prepared to present our case in court.”