CAMDEN, NJ (AP) — A judge has ordered Starbucks to pay an additional $2.7 million in lost wages and tax damages to a former regional manager who was previously paid more than $25 million after alleging that she and other white employees were unfairly punished after the high-profile arrests of two black men at a store in 2018.
In June, Shannon Phillips won $600,000 in punitive damages and $25 million in punitive damages after a New Jersey jury found race was a determining factor in Phillips’ firing, in violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 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 losses resulting from the lump sum, according to court documents. The company resisted paying any amount, saying that Philipps had not proven that she would not be able to earn the same or more in the future.
In April 2018, a store manager in Philadelphia called 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 send a white manager who was also not involved on administrative leave for reasons she knew were incorrect, according to her lawsuit.
Phillips, 52, said she was fired less than a month later after objecting to the manager’s leave amid the uproar, according to her lawsuit.
The company’s rationale for suspending the district manager, who was not responsible for the store where the arrests took place, was an allegation that black store managers were paid less than white managers, according to the lawsuit. Phillips said that argument made no sense since district managers had no say in employee salaries.
The lawsuit alleged that Starbucks instead took steps to punish “white employees” who worked in the area “in an effort to convince the community that they had properly responded to the incident.”
Starbucks lawyers had argued that Phillips was fired because the company needed stronger leadership in the wake of the arrests.
Starbucks is seeking a new trial, arguing that jurors were allowed to stay despite expressing negative opinions about the company, that misinformation in witness statements “poisoned the well” and that Phillips should not have received “dual damages” from both the state and and federal charges, the investigator reported.
Phillips’ lawyers, meanwhile, also want Starbucks ordered to pay $1.4 million in legal fees from 2018 through 2023.
Video of the arrest sparked national outcry, and the company later reached a settlement with both men for an undisclosed amount of money and an offer of a free college education.
The two men struck a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a token $1 each and a pledge from officials to create a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. The Philadelphia Police Department has adopted a new policy on how to deal with people accused of trespassing on private property — warning businesses about abusing police officers’ authority.