Former Starbucks Philadelphia Regional District Manager Shannon Phillips was awarded $25 million on Monday, in a lawsuit against the company that alleged she was fired because of her race. Phillips, who is white, was the regional manager at the Philadelphia location at the time of a 2018 controversy in which a pair of black men were arrested after refusing to leave a Philadelphia Starbucks store when they declined to purchase any items.
Phillips claimed that she had been chosen to take the fall for the incident by her corporate superiors, despite not being involved with the men’s arrest. While Starbucks argued during the lawsuit that it had fired Phillips because she allegedly “failed to lead” during the ensuing controversy, Phillips pointed out that, although she was fired, the black district manager who oversaw the store in which the incident took place retained his position. This district manager confirmed Phillips’ claim, during his testimony during the court case.
Another Starbucks district manager in Philadelphia, who was also white, was fired in the aftermath of the incident.
The arrest of the two men resulted in a wave of protests against both the individual store and Starbucks, at large. Protestor demands for the firing of the responsible manager were ostensibly met when Phillips’ employment was terminated, while employees at 8,000 Starbucks locations were subjected to anti-discrimination training.
Starbucks declined to comment on the outcome of the case.