On Monday, a federal jury awarded a White former Starbucks manager with $25 million after she successfully convinced them that she had been fired by the coffee chain due to her race.
As the New York Post reports, Shannon Phillips previously oversaw several locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as a regional manager who had been with the company for 13 years. Her lawsuit stems from a 2018 incident in which two black men attempted to use the restroom of a Philadelphia Starbucks, and were denied due to not being paying customers. When the men subsequently refused to leave, the police were called and the men were arrested and forced off the property.
Following the incident, protests began surrounding the Philadelphia location and other Starbucks locations across the country, falsely accusing the chain of racism due to the men being black. The company ultimately relented, temporarily closing down over 8,000 locations so that all employees could undergo nationwide “anti-bias training.” Eventually, the charges against the two men were dropped, and they reached undisclosed settlements with both Starbucks and the city of Philadelphia.
Phillips was fired a month after the incident, despite the fact that the manager of the Philadelphia location in question, who is black, was not fired. In the trial, Phillips’ attorney Laura Mattiacci argued that this double-standard was proof that Phillips was fired because she was White, which constituted a violation of her civil rights. Phillips herself stated that she had nothing to do with the arrests, but was nonetheless used as a “scapegoat” by the company to pander to racial activists.
The jury awarded Phillips with $25.6 million in compensation and punitive damages. The trial lasted for six days. Phillips also plans to seek back pay from the company.