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starbucks-34th-and-walnut

The are several Starbucks locations on Penn's campus, including on 34th and Walnut Streets.

Credit: Tamara Wurman

After an incident that garnered national attention in April 2018, a former Starbucks regional manager is suing the company and alleging she was discriminated against for being white. 

Shannon Phillips oversaw the Starbucks on 18th and Spruce streets, where two black men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing for declining to leave the store while waiting for an acquaintance. The event made national news and prompted Starbucks to close all stores in the United States on May 29, 2018 to provide racial bias training for all employees. 

Phillips, who oversaw approximately 100 stores in greater Philadelphia, South Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, claims she was fired from her position less than a month after the event because she is white, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Phillips said the company terminated her position because she protested against placing the white district manager who oversaw the 18th and Spruce streets store on administrative leave. The district manager was alleged to have paid lower salaries to black workers. Phillips claimed this was impossible because the district manager has no say over employee salaries. 

The lawsuit also claims that Starbucks took no disciplinary action against the black district manager of the 18th and Spruce streets store, who reportedly promoted the employee who called the police on the two men before the incident, the Inquirer reported. 

The lawsuit claims these decisions and false accusations were made in an “effort to convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident.”

Prior to the incident, Phillips said that she was praised for her performance, received a bonus the previous month, and was on track for a promotion within Starbucks’ government and affairs unit, the Inquirer reported. She is suing the company for “pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, loss of self-esteem, mental anguish, and loss of life’s pleasures.”

“We deny the claims in the lawsuit and are prepared to defend our case in court,” Starbucks senior manager of corporate communications told KYW Newsradio

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