Nearly two years after racially profiling two Black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, a former manager claims that she was the victim of racial discrimination. Shannon Phillips filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, according to NBC News.
In the lawsuit, Phillips, who is White, claims that she regularly “received positive performance evaluations and related merit-driven bonuses and salary increases.” She believes she would still have her job if she were not White.
In April 2018, Phillips called the police on two Black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, who were waiting to conduct a meeting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.
Nelson and Robinson arrived at the Starbucks at 4:35 p.m. to meet with a friend about a real estate deal on April 12. The meeting was scheduled for 4:45. After they walked in, Phillips told them they needed to purchase something or leave.
Two minutes after they arrived at the shop, Phillips called the police. Records show that the 911 call was placed at 4:37 p.m. When police arrived, they did not think that they were suspects.
“As soon as they approached us, they just said we had to leave,” Nelson said during an interview with “Good Morning America.”
“There was no question of, ’Was there a problem here between you and the manager? [or] ‘What happened?’”
The police did not explain why Nelson and Robinson were arrested and did not read them their Miranda rights. Instead, they were placed in the back of a police car simply for being Black.
After a video of the incident went viral, protests erupted at the Starbucks, and the manager was removed from working at that location. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson publicly apologized to the two men. In a move to “fix” the issue, Johnson decided to close 8,000 Starbucks in May so workers could receive racial bias training.
In regards to Phillips’ lawsuit, a Starbucks spokesman told NBC News, “We do not believe there is any merit to it, and we’re prepared to present our case in court.”