A white ex-regional director for Starbucks has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming she was illegally fired after the wrongful arrests of two black men at one of her stores last year.
Shannon Phillips alleges she was let go from the coffee giant in May 2018 because she objected to the suspension of a white male employee who managed stores in her Philadelphia region other than the location where the arrests took place.
“Weeks after the arrests and surrounding media coverage, (Starbucks) took steps to punish white employees who had not been involved in the arrests but who worked in and around the city of Philadelphia, in an effort to convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident,” the lawsuit filed this week in New Jersey Federal Court claims.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were cuffed at the Philadelphia location on April 12, 2018, after a restaurant manager called police with claims the two black men were trespassing.
Viral video of the incident sparked national outrage and a wave of protests.
The men were detained for hours and released. Prosecutors said they found no evidence of a crime.
An attorney for the men said they were having a business meeting at the coffee shop and simply were waiting for another person to arrive before ordering.
Starbucks apologized for the incident and said it reached a financial settlement with the men. The company also closed its stores around the country for racial sensitivity training.