White Starbucks manager who ran a store where two black men were denied bathroom access is awarded an additional $2.7million – after being handed $25million when a jury found she was fired because of his race
- Shannon Phillips claimed she was used as a ‘scapegoat’ by Starbucks Coffee
- It comes after she won her case and was awarded $25million in damages
A white Starbucks manager who was fired after two black men were denied access to a Philadelphia store restroom has been awarded $2.7 million to cover legal costs associated with his wrongful termination lawsuit.
Shannon Phillips has claimed she was used as a ‘scapegoat’ by Starbucks after she was fired when the coffee chain found itself at the center of a racial controversy when two black men were arrested on the premises of a cafe in Philadelphia in 2018.
It comes after Ms Phillips won her case against the coffee giant in June and was awarded $25million in punitive damages and $600,000 in compensatory damages.
The saga unfolded when an employee at Starbucks’ Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia called 911 on April 12, 2018, after two black men – Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson – were denied bathroom access because they weren’t paying customers.
Nelson and Robinson then refused to leave, saying they were just sitting at a table waiting for a potential real estate business partner to arrive. But when the police arrived, the men were arrested for trespassing.
Shannon Phillips (left) was awarded $2.7 million to cover legal costs associated with her wrongful termination lawsuit
The arrests – in which Ms Phillips was not involved – sparked widespread outrage and protests after footage of the incident emerged – and Starbucks was accused of racism and boycott threats.
Ms Phillips, who oversaw the location along with around 100 others and was reportedly paid up to $200,000, was promptly fired but in 2019 sued the coffee chain claiming it was due to racial bias .
After his victory on Monday, his lawyer Laura Carlin Mattiacci (pictured) said she was “very satisfied” with the verdict
After her victory on Monday, her lawyer Laura Carlin Mattiacci said she was “very satisfied” with the unanimous verdict.
She said that “she has proved by ‘clear and compelling evidence that punitive damages were warranted’ under New Jersey law.”
In the lawsuit, Ms Phillips – who worked for Starbucks for 13 years – claimed she had nothing to do with the arrests but was fired from her job anyway a month later.
Mobile phone footage of the arrests went viral after it showed Mr Nelson and Mr Robinson being held inside the store after sitting down without ordering anything.
The arrests have sparked protests and prompted more than 8,000 sites to close so that the company’s 175,000 employees can undergo training on racial bias.
Ms Phillips said she had worked “tirelessly” to help restore community relations in the wake of the controversy, according to the lawsuit.
In her role as regional manager, Phillips said she oversees about 100 stores in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
The high-profile arrests have sparked protests outside the store (above) and prompted more than 8,000 stores to close so the company’s 175,000 employees can take racial bias training
She claimed that Starbucks began punishing uninvolved white employees weeks later in an effort to publicly prove they cared about the incident.
Ms Phillips alleged the company ordered her to put a white manager, who had worked for the company for 15 years, on administrative leave because of an allegation of racial discrimination against him.
The allegation was based on complaints that non-white employees at this manager’s store were paid less than white workers.
Ms Phillips said she argued the male manager had no say in pay. The lawsuit also said Ms Phillips objected to her suspension because she said the manager was not racist and she had never seen him engage in discriminatory behaviour.
She argued, by comparison, that the black manager of the store where the arrests were made was not disciplined.
Ms Phillips said the black manager’s subordinate was the one who called 911 after the two men sat down and refused to leave after being told they could not use the bathroom without buying something.
Mr. Nelson and Mr. Robinson, who were arrested and spent hours in jail, eventually reached a settlement with Starbucks in the aftermath for an undisclosed sum and an offer of free college education.