What to Know
- A former Starbucks manager is suing the coffee chain, claiming they discriminated her and other white employees.
- Shannon Phillips said in her lawsuit that Starbucks punished white employees while responding to the controversial arrests of 2 black men.
- A spokesperson for Starbucks denied the allegations of the lawsuit and said they're prepared to present their case in court.
A former manager is suing Starbucks, claiming the company discriminated against her and other white employees while dealing with the aftermath of the controversial arrests of two black men at a Philadelphia store.
Shannon Phillips worked as a regional director for Starbucks in April 2018 when the arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sparked a national outcry. Nelson and Robinson, who were both 23 at the time, were arrested while sitting at a Rittenhouse Starbucks waiting for a business meeting.
Video of their arrests went viral, prompting outrage and accusations of racism against both the coffee chain and Philadelphia police.
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The controversy led to changes in the way in which Starbucks trained employees on race. In a new lawsuit filed by Phillips, the South Jersey native claims it also led to the coffee chain unjustly firing her in order to “convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident.”
Phillips said she oversaw the Rittenhouse location as well as 100 other stores in the Philadelphia region. She claimed she worked tirelessly to repair community relations after the 2018 arrests but that Starbucks took steps to punish white employees who weren’t involved in the incident. She also said she was ultimately fired after refuting what she claimed was a false allegation of discrimination against another white manager.
NBC10 reached out to Starbucks for comment. A spokesperson said they denied the claims of the lawsuit and are prepared to present their case in court.