White Starbucks Manager Awarded $25 Million After Being Fired When Her Staff Denied Bathroom Access To Two Black Men

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A white former Starbucks manager has been awarded $25.6 million in a lawsuit after being fired when her staff refused to let two black men use the bathroom at a store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Former Starbucks Manager Scores Massive Payout

Daily Mail reported that Shannon Phillips, 51, was fired in 2018 after two black men were arrested at the Starbucks that she was managing in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. A federal jury in New Jersey has just ruled that Starbucks then fired her for being white in a clear violation of her civil rights, resulting in her being awarded $25.6 million as well as $600,000 in compensation.

While Phillips has yet to speak out about the verdict, her mother told reporters that her daughter “seems very happy.”

“It’s a life-changing amount of money,” she said. “I don’t know what she’s going to do with it. I really can’t talk about it, I spoke to her briefly.”

Phillips’ lawyer Laura Carlin Mattiacci also confirmed that her client is “very pleased” with the verdict, adding that she proved by “clear and convincing evidence that punitive damages were warranted.”

Phillips is a mother of three and is currently still living in her $512k four-bed-two-bath family home in Swedesboro, New Jersey. Neighbors were unaware of her lawsuit, and it is unclear at this time if she is planning to move. She is still working as the Regional Director of Sales for Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattresses at the time of this writing.

Related: Eric Holder Will Help Train Starbucks Employees on ‘Racial-Bias Education Day’

Initial Incident

This comes five years after the arrests of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, who were waiting for a meeting when they were denied access to the bathroom at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Both Nelson and Robinson were arrested, resulting in outrage and protests as Starbucks was accused of racism.

Phillips, who was the regional manager that oversaw this Starbucks location as well as about 100 others, was fired quickly after this incident. Meanwhile, the black manager of this specific Starbucks location kept his job, according CBS News.

One year later, Phillips filed a lawsuit against Starbucks alleging that her firing was due to racial bias, with her lawyers arguing that “upper management of Starbucks were looking for a ‘scapegoat’ to terminate to show action was being taken.”

Find out more about this in the video below.

Related: After Starbucks Promised to Hire 10,000 Refugees, Their Popularity Tanked

Groundbreaking Ruling

Wilk Auslander employment attorney Helen Rella talked about how unusual and groundbreaking this ruling is.

“The decision in the Starbucks case, that found Starbucks liable for race discrimination relative to a white employee who was terminated, sends the signal that all races are protected from discrimination – not just those who are considered minorities,” she said. “It serves as a reminder to employers to carefully consider their actions to ensure that they are compliant with anti-discrimination laws across the board.”

As for Nelson and Robinson, they reached an agreement with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each. They also got a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,’ Robinson said afterwards. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Starbucks has yet to comment on the outcome of Phillips’ lawsuit.

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