Christian barista files lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming she was forced to wear a rainbow t-shirt
A Christian woman and former barista from New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming she was fired after refusing to wear a rainbow Pride t-shirt.
According to NBC News, Betsy Fresse started working at a Starbucks in Hoboken in 2018, and she said in court filings that her employers knew about her religious beliefs.
She later transferred to another branch in Glen Ridge, and during Pride month last year, she and her co-workers were called into a meeting with their manager where Fresse spotted a box of rainbow Pride t-shirts.
In her lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Fresse alleged that she asked her manager if she would be required to wear one, and he told her she wouldn’t.
But later, she claimed, she was contacted by the Starbucks ethics and compliance helpline to discuss her request not to wear the t-shirt. She told the representative that she would not wear it “because her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so”.
According to the lawsuit, on 22 August last year Fresse was told that she had lost her job because “her comportment was not in compliance with Starbucks’ core values” referencing that she had told her co-workers who did wear the t-shirt that they “need Jesus”.
Fresse insists that “all people need Jesus”, and that because of her religion she must “express in word and deeds Christ’s love for everyone”, but that she “holds no enmity toward individuals who ascribe to the LGBTQ lifestyle”.
However, she also said in the suit that she believes “that God created man and woman, that marriage is defined in the Bible as between one man and one woman only, and that any sexual activity which takes place outside of this context is contrary to her understanding of Biblical teaching”.
The former barista said that being required to wear a rainbow t-shirt “would be tantamount to forced speech and inaccurately show her advocacy of a lifestyle in direct contradiction to her religious beliefs”.
But a spokesperson for Starbucks told NBC News that the former employees allegations are “without merit”.
They said: “Starbucks does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation… No part of our dress code requires partners to wear any approved items [other than the green apron] that they have not personally selected.”
Fresse is seeking compensation for emotional pain and suffering, punitive damages and back pay with interest.