A white former Starbucks regional manager, who left the company after protests erupted stemming from a viral video that showed two black men being arrested for refusing to leave when a store employee denied them access to the restroom, is suing the coffee company alleging racial discrimination.
The two black men – Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson – made national news in April 2018 for being arrested at a Starbucks cafe by Philadelphia police for trespassing while waiting for a business meeting.
Shannon Phillips alleges in the lawsuit that she filed this week in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey that she was a “loyal, longtime employee” of Starbucks, overseeing stores in southern New Jersey, the Philadelphia area, Delaware and parts of Maryland. Phillips contends she had nothing to do with the arrests and yet was terminated less than a month later and that she worked “tirelessly” for Starbucks to repair community relations after the arrests.
“We deny the claims in the lawsuit and are prepared to defend our case in court,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Madison365 via e-mail on Thursday.
The controversy led to changes in the way in which Starbucks trained employees on race. Starbucks would go on to close 8,000 stores across the US to deliver training to 175,000 employees “designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”