In a heartwarming story, a Starbucks manager who was previously awarded $25 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit has now been granted an additional $2.7 million in damages. Shannon Phillips was fired from her position in 2018 after two black men were denied the use of the restroom at a Philadelphia location because they were not paying customers. At the time, Starbucks had a policy in place that prohibited non-paying customers from using their facilities.
The incident occurred in April 2018, when Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, two black men, entered a Starbucks in Philadelphia and sat down while waiting for a friend. The Starbucks employee on duty denied one of the men permission to use the restroom, leading to a series of events that escalated quickly. Eventually, the situation led to the staff calling the police, resulting in the arrest of the two men for trespassing.
Following the incident, various groups, including Black Lives Matter activists, protested outside the Philadelphia Starbucks branch. In response, Starbucks took swift action to rectify the situation. The company apologized to the two men, ordered racial bias training for all 175,000 employees, and opened up their restrooms to all customers. However, this decision came with unintended consequences.
After Starbucks opened their restrooms to everyone, employees soon discovered syringes, drug baggies, and evidence of drug use in the bathrooms. Despite these issues, the coffee giant decided to terminate Shannon Phillips’ employment, even though she was not at the Philadelphia branch when the incident took place.
Recently, a New Jersey federal judge ruled in favor of Phillips and ordered Starbucks to pay her an additional $2,736,755 in back pay, front pay, and tax gross. This ruling comes after a jury in Camden previously awarded Phillips $25.6 million in settlement money, which included punitive and compensatory damages, after a trial in June. Phillips had filed a lawsuit in 2019, asserting that she was fired because of her race.
It is essential to note that the judge’s ruling reflects the specific circumstances of this case and does not necessarily imply Starbucks’ guilt or innocence. However, it highlights the complex challenges faced by companies when handling incidents that involve racial discrimination and the potential legal repercussions that may follow.
This ongoing case serves as a reminder of the importance of fair treatment and equality in the workplace. Companies must navigate these issues with sensitivity and ensure that their policies and practices are designed to promote inclusivity and equality for all employees and customers.