Starbucks To Pay $25M To White Former Manager Over Racism
Starbucks has been ordered to pay $25.6m (£20.2m) to a white ex-employee in a racial discrimination case.
Shannon Phillips, a former manager at a Philadelphia chain, refused two Black men from using the toilet in 2018 after saying they hadn't bought anything. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, 23 at the time, explained they were about to have a business meeting and were waiting for a third person to arrive.
The pair were asked to leave and staff reportedly called the police who handcuffed and escorted the men away.
The arrests were caught on camera and immediately went viral across social media. It led to protests and the coffee giant closing all its US stores to teach anti-bias training to workers.
Phillips subsequently lost her job as a result, while a Black colleague kept his, according to CBS. Phillips' lawyers said that "upper management of Starbucks were looking for a 'scapegoat' to terminate to show action was being taken" after the incident.
A federal jury in New Jersey said that Starbucks had violated the former manager's civil rights and a New Jersey law that prohibits discrimination based on race. They reportedly awarded her $600,000 in compensatory damages and $25m in punitive damages.
Wilk Auslander employment attorney Helen Rella called the case unusual while speaking to CBS.
"The decision in the Starbucks case, that found Starbucks liable for race discrimination relative to a white employee who was terminated, sends the signal that all races are protected from discrimination – not just those who are considered minorities," she told CBS MoneyWatch.
"It serves as a reminder to employers to carefully consider their actions to ensure that they are compliant with anti-discrimination laws across the board."
A spokesperson for Starbucks toldThe Independent that the company had no comment to offer in response to the ruling.
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