A former regional manager for Starbucks filed a lawsuit against the coffee giant, arguing that she was fired from her position because she is white following the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia store last year.
According to a lawsuit obtained by CBS3, Shannon Phillips claims she was unjustly terminated less than a month after the men were arrested in April 2018 for sitting in a Starbucks without making a purchase.
A Starbucks manager reportedly called police alleging that the young men were trespassing and refused to leave the establishment.
The men, however, said they were there for a business meeting and were waiting for a third person.
Nevertheless, they were escorted out of the store in handcuffs and video footage of the incident triggered a firestorm of controversy from critics who claimed the African American men were targeted because of their race.
In response to the incident, Starbucks dropped charges against the men, released a public apology, and closed its more than 8,000 locations so that employees could receive racial sensitivity training.
Weeks later, Phillips says she was mandated by superiors to suspend a white Starbucks manager who had no involvement with the incident or the store where arrests took place. She objected and was then fired the next day so that the company would appear like it was trying to rectify the situation.
Her bosses told her that nonwhite employees at the store whose manager they wanted her to suspend had been paid less than white employees. Phillips objected, pointing out that store managers have nothing to do with determining salaries, which are set by a different division of the company, according to the lawsuit.
Phillips claims in the suit that she regularly "received positive performance evaluations and related merit driven bonuses and salary increases." She says she would still have her job if she were not white.