Jury Says White Starbucks Manager Was Fired For Her Race, Awards Her $25 Million

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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A jury ordered Starbucks to pay $25.6 million Tuesday to a former regional manager it fired in 2018 after a viral incident in which employees called the police on two black men, determining that the coffee retailer had fired her because she is white, The New York Times reported.

A viral 2018 incident in which a Starbucks employee called the police on two black men who refused to leave the store sparked accusations of racism resulting in a public apology from the company’s CEO and the one-day closure of 8,000 stores for trainings on racial bias. In the aftermath of the incident, Starbucks fired Shannon Phillips, who oversaw about 100 stores in the region, according to the NYT. (RELATED: Amazon Confirms They Shut Off A Man’s Smart Home Because A Random Guy Said He Was Racist)

The jury found that Starbucks had fired Phillips on the basis of her race in violation of her federal civil rights and of a New Jersey law prohibiting race-based discrimination, according to the NYT.

Two black men who had not yet ordered anything were waiting for a third person to join them at the Rittenhouse Square Starbucks in Philadelphia when one of them asked to use the restroom, according to the NYT. An employee declined and asked the men to leave; when they refused, an employee called the police, who arrested both men, sparking swift outrage and protests.

One of Phillips’ superiors, a black woman, told Phillips to suspend a white manager who oversaw other stores in Philadelphia, but not the Rittenhouse Square location, over allegations of discriminatory conduct Phillips believed were untrue; Phillips declined and was fired, according to the NYT. The manager of the store where the incident occurred was a black man and had promoted the employee who called the police, according to Phillips.

“During this time of crisis, Philadelphia market needed a leader who could perform,” a lawyer for Starbucks wrote in a court filing, according to the NYT, adding that Phillips “failed in every aspect of that role.”

Phillips argued in her lawsuit that Starbucks was punishing white employees, including herself, who were not involved in the Rittenhouse Square incident, according to the NYT. She had been promoted to her job after six years as a district manager in Ohio for “exemplary performance.”

Starbucks settled with the two men who were arrested in the Philadelphia incident and did not press charges against them, according to the NYT.

Starbucks did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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