A white regional manager for Starbucks recently filed a lawsuit incredulously claiming racial discrimination from the fallout over two Black men who were arrested last year for merely conducting a business meeting in a Philadelphia location.
According to CBS Philly, Shannon Phillips claims the coffee chain fired her because she was white. Her termination came almost a month after the incident made national headlines, where Rashon Nelson and his business partner Donte Robinson were arrested in April 2018 after they were reported sitting idle in a Philadelphia Center City location.
Phillips filed the suit on Monday in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey on Monday and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, The Hill reports.
On April 12, 2018 Nelson and Robinson were filmed as the encounter unfolded after an in-store manager called the police on the the two men because they didn’t order any items or patronize the location. The video went viral and sparked numerous conversations regarding the places and spaces where Black people aren’t allowed to live and move freely without being accosted. Since the Starbucks incident, many others followed where police were called on Black people for over convening at numerous locations such as public pools, city sidewalks and even their own homes.
In response to the backlash, Starbucks apologized to the men and a month later, ordered the shutdown of 8,000 locations nationwide in order to hold implicit bias trainings.
In the suit Phillips claims she did everything to educate herself on what had transpired and always encouraged equal treatment of customers regardless of race. She says she was ordered to terminate a white 15-year-old store manager who did not work at the location, after pointing out that the store manager of the City Center location was Black and suffered no consequences.
“Her bosses told her that nonwhite employees at the store whose manager they wanted her to suspend had been paid less than white employees. Phillips objected, pointing out that store managers have nothing to do with determining salaries, which are set by a different division of the company, according to the lawsuit,” NBC News reports.
Phillips states that less than a month after she pointed out the discrepancies, she was fired.
In response a spokesperson for Starbucks says they will defend their decision in court.
“We deny the claims of the lawsuit and are prepared to defend our case in court,” the spokesperson told CBS Philly.