Starbucks ordered to pay former manager in Philadelphia an additional $2.7 million

Starbucks ordered to pay former manager in Philadelphia an additional $2.7 million

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Starbucks must pay a former manager in Pennsylvania an extra $2.7 million in damages after she was fired five years ago due to her race, a federal judge ordered. 

The additional payment will go to Shannon Phillips, who was awarded $25.6 million in June after a federal jury determined she had been fired because she is White. U.S. District Court Judge Joel Slomsky on Wednesday ruled that the coffee giant will also give Phillips $1 million in back pay, $1.6 million in front pay and roughly $66,000 in tax gross damages — for a total of $2.7 million. The funds are part of a “court-determined economic loss and attorneys’ fee award,” Slomsky wrote in his decision. 

Starbucks declined to comment Thursday about the additional pay. In court documents filed last month, Starbucks argued that Phillips didn’t deserve the additional dollars, in part because she hasn’t looked for a job since leaving the company, but also because an accountant tapped for expert analysis in the case incorrectly calculated how much Phillips actually deserves in back pay. 

“Indeed, not only has Ms. Phillips removed herself from the job market, but she declined to pursue an opportunity at 7-11 that would likely have been more comparable to Starbucks even before accepting her current role at Raymour & Flanigan,” the court documents from Starbucks lawyers state, adding that the company would be more open to paying her $78,343 in additional damages. 

Ongoing Anti-Racism Protest at Starbucks in Philadelphia, PA
Former regional manager, Shannon Phillips, who oversaw dozens of Starbucks coffee shops and is White, was fired by the company in the aftermath of the 2018 Rittenhouse Square Starbucks incident, involving the false arrest of two Black men.

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Af former regional manager for Starbucks, Phillips oversaw dozens of coffee shops in the Philadelphia area. She lost her job during the aftermath of a 2018 incident that took place at a Starbucks in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The incident involved two Black men in their 20s who were awaiting a third party for a business meeting at the Starbucks when one of them, Rashon Nelson, was denied permission to use the restroom, because he hadn’t purchased anything. 

A store employee then asked Nelson and his business partner, Donte Robinson, if they needed help. The pair declined. Shortly thereafter, having been summoned by Starbucks staff, police arrived, handcuffed the pair and escorted them from the cafe. 

Their arrests were captured on video and shared widely. Protests ensued, with the company closing all of its stores to hold anti-bias training for workers

Phillips was fired while the manager of the Rittenhouse Square coffee shop, who was Black, kept his job. Phillips sued Starbucks in 2019, alleging that race had been a determining factor in her termination. 

Her lawyers argued that years ago that “upper management of Starbucks were looking for a ‘scapegoat’ to terminate to show action was being taken” following the incident involving the two Black men. 

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