US: Starbucks denies claims that it fired an employee who was wrongly perceived to be gay
A former Starbucks manager, fired after allegedly being sexually harassed and called gay by fellow employees, is suing Starbucks for unlawful discrimination – but the coffee chain strenuously denies the allegations.
Alicia Brooks worked as a manager for a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City until she was fired in 2012.
The complaint states that Brooks was arrested after allegedly assaulting another employee, identified in the filing as “Juliette.” (The document notes that this scenario “could not be further from the truth.”)
Following her arrest, Brooks was suspended from work and claims she was ordered by Starbucks to sign a statement saying she had had an “improper” relationship with Juliette, which Brooks refused to sign.
The complaint also added that Brooks was asked in front of 10 other colleagues if she was a lesbian whilst at work.
The 29-year-old denies being a lesbian and denies having any sexual relationship with Juliette.
Brooks also alleges that she was harassed by a fellow work colleague and plans to sue for harassment.
New York law prohibits all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Starbucks told the Huffington Post that whilst Brooks was indeed fired, her complaints have “no factual basis” and Starbucks have stated that they wish to defend themselves in court.
Starbucks also reiterated its zero policy stance on discrimination: “We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” a spokesperson said.
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