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Former Starbucks manager awarded $25M in lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.

Former Starbucks Manager Wins $25.6 Million in Lawsuit

A former regional manager for Starbucks won $25.6 million after a jury agreed that she was fired for being white.

Jury Awards Compensation to Shannon Phillips

A jury in New Jersey awarded Shannon Phillips $600,000 in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages on Monday after she argued that she and other employees who are also white faced unjust discipline from Starbucks amid the backlash after two black men were arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia.

Phillips oversaw around 100 Starbucks locations and was fired following a viral 2018 incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks that she was not present for. Two black men were arrested after they were denied access to the Starbucks restroom without buying anything and then refused to leave the store, leading to national backlash against the coffee chain. Phillips claims she was ordered to suspend a fellow white manager over unfounded complaints, and when she refused to do so she was fired.

Phillips’s lawsuit claimed Starbucks was working to “punish white employees … in an effort to convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident.” Starbucks argued it wanted a new manager who had more skills at dealing with the crisis.

Potential Financial Impact on Starbucks

The jury’s siding with Phillips could cost Starbucks even more as the judge may award back pay and future pay as well as fees for her legal team.

In response to the 2018 incident, Starbucks also closed thousands of stores for a day to teach its employees “anti-bias” training. The charges against the two men were eventually dropped and they reached a settlement with the coffee chain.

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