A former regional manager at Starbucks has been awarded $25.6 million by jurors in a federal court case. Shannon Phillips claimed that she and other white employees faced unfair punishment following the widely publicized arrests of two Black men at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia in 2018.
According to Law360, Phillips received $600,000 in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages on Monday. The jury in New Jersey determined that Phillips' termination was influenced by her race, which violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
In April 2018, a store manager in Philadelphia called the police on two Black men who were sitting in the coffee shop without making a purchase. Phillips, who was the regional manager of operations in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey, and other areas at the time, was not directly involved in the arrests. However, she lost her job less than a month later after objecting to the suspension of another white manager who was not involved in the incident.
While Starbucks has deep pockets, most businesses cannot survive a judgment in this amount. It is important for businesses to consider the implications of all terminations carefully.
The attorneys at Outside Legal Counsel LLP can help ensure that all decisions related to terminations and other employment related decisions are made with an eye towards avoiding liability. Please reach out to us for more information about our services and how we can help.
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