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In lawsuit against Starbucks, former regional director says she was wrongfully dismissed



Shannon Phillips, who is white, claims she was fired the following month after 13 years with the company because she resisted putting a white employee in administrative leave for unrelated alleged discriminatory conduct.

The employee had not been discriminated against, Phillips says, and he was not connected to the store where the two black men were arrested.

"I was terminated because I am white. If I was black, I would not have been. I was terminated because I complained and objected to racial discrimination," Phillips stated in court documents.

Phillips believes Starbucks "took steps to punish white employees who had not been involved in the arrests, but who worked in and around the city of Philadelphia, in an effort to convince the community that it had responded to the incident properly," it states in the lawsuit.

A Starbucks spokesman said Friday: "We deny the allegations in this lawsuit, and we are fully prepared to defend our case in court."

Street protests happened in April 201

8 because of the incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

19659007] Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were asked to leave the coffee shop after sitting at a table without ordering anything. The men, who refused to leave because they were waiting for a business relationship, were escorted out of the coffee shop in handcuffs after a store manager called police on them.

Robinson and Nelson later reached settlement agreements with Starbucks and the City of Philadelphia.

Phillips & # 39; lawsuit was brought this week in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

The director of the region was told that "the situation cannot be restored"

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Phillips was previously tasked with overseeing the operation of Starbucks stores in southern New Jersey, the Philadelphia region, Delaware and parts of Maryland, her complaint states. Two district managers overseeing stores in Philadelphia reported to her, including the district manager who was responsible for a group of stores that contained the one where Robinson and Nelson were arrested.

Phillips says she helped Starbucks' community response to the incident and was encouraged to apply for a temporary position to support the company's government and community affairs unit – a position she was later told was "on hold" "according to the lawsuit.

After a settlement was reached with Robinson and Nelson in early May, Phillips claims she was asked to suspend one of her district managers, a white man, for allegedly paying non-white employees less than their white ones counterparts.

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Phillips & # 39; lawsuit says it was "factual impossible "because district managers could not determine the salaries of employees because of Starbucks' own policies and procedures.

Her lawsuit states that the district manager had worked for Starbucks for 15 years and that she had never observed any racially discriminatory comments or behavior from him.

In the lawsuit, Phillips said the district manager was not responsible for the store where the two black men were arrested and had no involvement in the incident, but that a black district manager who oversaw that store was neither fired nor placed on suspension.

8. May Phillips was told she would be fired, and that the only reason given for her resignation was that "the situation cannot be restored," according to her complaint.

She claims that she was replaced by "substantially less qualified employees who had not complained about racial discrimination."

Phillips seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees. She also asks the court to declare that Starbucks violated her civil rights by illegal employment discrimination, the lawsuit states.

CNN's Michael Besozzi contributed to this report.


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