Punished enthusiastically for enthusiastically
supporting racial discrimination
Bring a gun to a knife fight: Shannon Phillips, a former Starbucks employee for thirteen years who was fired from the company following a racial incident at one of its stores, has been awarded back pay and $25.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages by a jury, who ruled she was fired simply because she was white and Starbucks needed a scapegoat.
The controversy began when the staff at a Starbucks store called the police on two blacks sitting in the store.
Rashon Nelson and his friend Donte Robinson were arrested at the Philly Starbucks in April 2018 after an employee called 911 to say they weren’t paying customers and had refused to leave. The men, who said they had been simply sitting at a table waiting for a potential real estate business partner to arrive, were arrested for trespassing.
In response to the widespread protests that followed, Starbucks temporarily shut its 8,000 locations nationwide in order to give its employees “anti-bias training,” while coming to an out-of-court settlement with the two men, whereby they each were paid a symbolic $1 but the company set up a $200,000 program to help young entrepreneurs.
The company also decided to fire Phillips, even though she was not at the store when the incident occurred. That firing was because she had objected to the company’s order for her to suspend a white manager who had had no connection to the incident at all.
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