Starbucks Ordered To Pay White Employee $25.6 Million For Discrimination

In a case that sends a clear message that reverse discrimination will not be tolerated, Starbucks has been ordered by a jury to pay $25.6 million to Shannon Phillips, a former regional manager who was fired in 2018. The decision comes after a viral incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, where employees called the police on two black men who were waiting for a friend. 

The jury determined that Phillips, a white woman, was unjustly fired due to her race, deeming the termination a violation of her civil rights and a New Jersey law prohibiting race-based discrimination. 

The incident in question took place in 2018 at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. Two black men who had not made any purchases were waiting for a third person to join them. When one of the men asked to use the restroom and was denied, they refused to leave the store. 

This led an employee to call the police, resulting in the arrest of both men and subsequent outrage and protests.

In the aftermath of the incident, Starbucks CEO issued a public apology and the company closed 8,000 stores for a day of training on racial bias. However, it seems that the actions taken by the company did not adequately address the situation.

Phillips, who was responsible for overseeing around 100 stores in the region, was unjustly fired after she refused a Black superior’s instructions to suspend a white manager who she believed had been falsely accused of discriminatory conduct. That white manager was reportedly not responsible for the Rittenhouse Square store.

Starbucks argued that it fired Phillips for “absence of leadership” as it claims that during a time of crisis, they needed a leader who could perform, implying that Phillips had failed in her role. However, Phillips said that she was only a victim in the company’s game of self-preservation and unfair punishment of white employees who were not involved in the incident. 

In her lawsuit, she made it clear that she was being punished for the actions of others and for standing up for what she believed was right. 

According to Phillips, the in-store manager of the Rittenhouse Square store where the incident occurred was a black man and he did not get fired. 

Starbucks had previously settled with the two black men who were arrested in the Philadelphia incident and did not press charges against them. However, this verdict reflects the fact that the settlement does not absolve them of the responsibility for their discriminatory actions towards Phillips.