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Starbucks ordered to pay extra $2.7M to employee who said she was fired for being white

todayAugust 17, 2023

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(NEW YORK) — A New Jersey federal judge has ordered Starbucks to pay a former employee who was awarded $25.6 million in a wrongful termination suit an extra $2.7 million in damages.

Shannon Phillips, a former regional director for the chain, sued the coffee giant in 2019, claiming that she was fired for being white.

On Wednesday, Judge Joel Slomsky ordered Starbucks to pay Phillips $2,736,755 in back pay, front pay and tax gross, court documents show.

The ruling comes after a Camden jury ordered the coffee giant to pay Phillips $25.6 million in settlement money, including punitive and compensatory damages, following a trial in June.

Phillips, 52, claimed in her lawsuit that “her race was a determinative factor” in Starbucks’ decision to fire her in the wake of a 2018 racial firestorm.

In April 2018, two Black men — Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson — were arrested while waiting for a business meeting after an employee called 911 and accused the men of trespassing after they refused to make a purchase or leave the store. The arrests sparked nationwide protests and prompted Starbucks to close some of its stores for a day for racial bias training.

Less than a month after the arrests, Phillips was notified of her termination, despite claiming that she wasn’t at the store that day and was not involved in the arrests in any way.

Phillips, who had been employed by Starbucks for nearly 13 years at the time of her termination, claims she “actively worked” on “crisis management” efforts and “took steps to ensure that the retail locations within her area were a safe and welcoming environment for all customers, regardless of race,” according to her 2019 civil complaint.

In a memo opposing economic damages filed last month, Starbucks argued that Phillips “has failed to present any evidence that she could not earn the same (or perhaps even more) in the future and has similarly presented no evidence, beyond her speculation, as to what benefits she may have received had she remained at Starbucks.”

“Further, given that there is no evidence of intentional discrimination, Starbucks requests that this Court award Ms. Phillips no wage loss damages,” the memo continued.

ABC News has reached out to Starbucks for comment on Wednesday’s ruling.

Robinson and Nelson reached a private settlement with Starbucks, as well as with the city of Philadelphia, which vowed in 2018 to pay the men each $1 and promised a $200,000 investment into programs that support aspiring young entrepreneurs, according to the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Written by: ABC News

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