CAMDEN, NJ (AP) — A judge has ordered Starbucks to pay additional lost wages and tax damages to a former regional executive who was previously awarded more than $2.7 million 25 million dollars after allegations that she and other white employees were subsequently unfairly punished sensational arrests by two black men in a shop in 2018.
In June, Shannon Phillips was awarded $600,000 in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages after a New Jersey jury found that race was a determining factor in Phillips’ dismissal, violating the state’s antidiscrimination laws federal and state violations.
The Philadelphia investigator reports The U.S. District Judge on Wednesday ordered Starbucks to pay Phillips an additional $2.73 million in past and future lost earnings and benefits, as well as compensation for tax disadvantages resulting from the lump sum, court documents show. The company declined to pay any amount and said Philipps failed to demonstrate that she could not have earned the same or more in the future.
In April 2018, a Philadelphia store manager called the police about two black men sitting in the coffee shop without ordering anything. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were later released without charge.
Phillips, then regional operations manager in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and elsewhere, was not involved in any arrests. However, she said she was ordered to place a white manager, who was also not involved, on administrative leave for reasons she knew were wrong, her lawsuit states.
Phillips, 52, said she was fired less than a month later after opposing the manager’s furlough amid the uproar, according to her lawsuit.
According to the complaint, the company’s rationale for suspending the district manager, who was not responsible for the store where the arrests took place, was that black store managers were paid less than whites. Phillips said the argument makes no sense because district managers have no control over employee salaries.
The lawsuit alleged that Starbucks was instead taking steps to penalize “white employees” who worked in the area “to convince the community that it responded appropriately to the incident.”
Starbucks lawyers had claimed Phillips was fired because the company needed stronger leadership following the arrests.
Starbucks is seeking a new trial, arguing that the jury was allowed to stay despite expressing negative opinions of the company, that false information in witness testimonies “poisoned the well” and that Phillips did not award “double damages” in either case State and federal allegations are allowed, the Inquirer reported.
Phillips’ attorneys, meanwhile, also want Starbucks to be ordered to pay $1.4 million in legal fees from 2018 to 2023.
Video of the arrest sparked a nationwide outcry, and later the company reached an agreement with both men for an undisclosed sum and the offer of a free college education.
The two men settled with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic dollar each and a promise by officials to establish a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. The Philadelphia Police Department has issued a new policy on how to deal with individuals accused of trespassing on private property. She warns companies against abusing police officers’ authority.