After black men arrested, Starbucks accused of unfairly punishing white employees

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FILE – This June 26, 2019 file photo shows a Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh. In a ruling Tuesday Sept. 24, 2019, a European Union court overturned a ruling by the European Commission that a tax deal between the Dutch government and Starbucks amounted to illegal state support for the coffee giant. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS NEWS) — A regional Starbucks manager fired after the high-profile arrests of two black men at one of the coffee shops in Philadelphia has filed a wrongful termination suit against the company.

Shannon Phillips accuses Starbucks of unfairly punishing white employees like her in response to the widely publicized arrests last year.

In the lawsuit, obtained by CBS Philadelphia, Phillips says she lost her job after objecting to the company putting another white manager on leave.

A Starbucks spokesperson says they are ready to defend their case in court.

“We deny the claims of the lawsuit and are prepared to defend our case in court,” the spokesperson told CBS Philadelphia.

Phillips’ lawyer, who refused to comment, is asking for a jury trial.

During the 2018 incident, Rashon Nelson and his business partner Donte Robinson were taken away from the Starbucks in handcuffs after a manager called police because the two had not made a purchase. Instead, the men told the manager they were waiting for a third person to arrive for a business meeting.

Protesters of the arrests believe the men were targeted because of their race. The arrest prompted Starbucks officials to close stores nationwide to conduct racial bias training.

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