Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems discusses a Starbucks lawsuit regarding the firing of a New Jersey barista for refusing to wear a ‘Pride’ shirt.
Starbucks is an internationally recognized cafe chain often praised for its quality employee benefits. However, the company was recently put in the limelight in a less desirable way, due to a New Jersey woman’s refusal to wear one of the company’s annual “Pride” t-shirts. The lawsuit alleges that the woman refused to wear the shirt on account of her religious beliefs. Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems recently discussed the lawsuit in more detail.
Simon Peel explained that Betsy Fresse is a devout Christian from Newark, New Jersey. She has been working with Starbucks as a Barista for five years this December. Betsy stated in the alleged lawsuit that Starbucks managers assured her that her faith would not be an issue when they transferred her to a store in Glen Ridge last year.
However, Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems explained that only months later, Fresse noticed a box of “Pride” shirts on the manager’s desk during a meeting. She asked if it was going to be a workplace requirement that she wore one. Her immediate manager stated that she would not have to wear the t-shirt.
“Just shortly after, in late August, another manager informed Fresse that her employment had been terminated,” Simon Peel said. “He stated that Fresse remarked on her colleagues ‘needing Jesus’ when the shirt was received.”
The Fresse lawsuit cites unlawful discrimination, according to Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems. Fresse is seeking punitive damages, back pay, and payment for her legal fees. She’s also seeking for an injunction to keep Starbucks from failing to accommodate all religious beliefs. Fresse believes that Starbucks is clearly favoring religious groups other than Christians.
“Starbucks representatives have commented that this lawsuit is entirely baseless,” Simon Peel said. “They stated that they are fully prepared to present their side of the case in court.”
Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems added that a Starbucks spokesman was quoted telling The New York Post that no part of the Starbucks dress code, other than the signature green apron, requires their partners to wear any Starbucks-approved items that they have not selected themselves.
Simon Peel, formerly of Jitterbit, IBM, and Cast Iron Systems explained that we can expect to hear more about this lawsuit in the future as it reaches a settlement, heads to court, or finds another outcome.