White Starbucks Manager Fired After Two Black Men Were Arrested in Store for No Reason Files Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

A white former regional manager of Starbucks who was fired after two black men were arrested while waiting for someone at a store in Philadelphia has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company.

In a suit filed at the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, Shannon Phillips claims she and other white employees were made scapegoats following the incident which caused international outcry last April.

In a viral video, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were seen being arrested after they asked to use the bathroom without purchasing a drink while they were waiting to meet somebody.

The incident resulted in the closure of more than 8,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. so its 175,000 members of staff could attend racial bias educational training and sparked major protests and boycotts against the coffee giant.

Phillips, who was employed at Starbucks for 13 years, overseeing stores in southern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware and parts of Maryland, accused Starbucks of taking steps to punish white employees who had not been involved in the arrests in an effort to "convince the community that it had properly responded to the incident," according to the legal filing viewed by Newsweek.

Phillips said that she was ordered to place a white employee who had no involvement with Nelson and Robinson's arrest on administrative leave because of an allegation of discriminatory conduct that Starbucks knew was not true.

The lawsuit also claims the company took no steps to punish a black district manager who had been responsible for the management of the Philadelphia store where the arrests occurred.

Phillips was fired less than one month after the arrests took place on May 9, 2018. The company allegedly stated that "the situation is not recoverable" as the sole reason for her termination. The lawsuit claims that the company's stated reason is "pre-text for race discrimination."

Phillips was then allegedly replaced by substantially "less qualified employees who had not complained of race discrimination" by Starbucks and had not been working in the Philadelphia area at the time of the arrests.

Phillips is now seeking punitive and compensatory damages as a result of the "pain and suffering, emotional upset, mental anguish, humiliation, and loss of life's pleasures" she suffered following her firing.

Newsweek has contacted Phillips' attorney, Kate Oeltjen, for comment. Newsweek has contacted Starbucks for comment.

A spokesman for Starbucks told ABC News: "We deny the claims in the lawsuit and are fully prepared to present our case in court."

Starbucks previously apologized to Nelson and Robinson for the incident. The pair were soon released without charge following their arrest.

"We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we can handle incidents in our stores," Starbucks said.

"We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores."

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Protestors demonstrate outside a Center City Starbucks on April 15, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Police arrested two black men who were waiting inside the Center City Starbucks which prompted an apology from the company's CEO. A former regional manager is suing Starbucks for alleged racially discrimination following the men's arrest. Mark Makela/Getty
White Starbucks Manager Fired After Two Black Men Were Arrested in Store for No Reason Files Racial Discrimination Lawsuit | U.S.