Starbucks facing sexual harassment lawsuit

Frank S. Clowney III

A California Starbucks location is the focus of a recently filed sexual harassment and wrongful termination civil lawsuit. According to the 23-year-old female plaintiff, she initially enjoyed working at the company’s Chula Vista location and things went well until a new manager was hired.

The woman claims that the new manager started asking her if she had taken special education classes, called her disparaging names such as “retarded”, yelled at her for burning her hand with coffee and then not being able to locate the first aid kit on her own and other things. She claims that the manager’s behavior towards her eventually escalated to the point of physical violence. She claims that he physically grabbed her arm and restrained her on at least three different occasions.

The woman apparently followed the company’s mandated procedures for filing a sexual harassment complaint. Upon reporting her concerns to the corporate office, they initially allegedly told the woman they had received the DVD of the surveillance video, which she indicates would prove her case. Later, they claimed the video was lost, and she believes they deleted the files. When she attempted to meet with the company’s district manager, he did not show up for any of the scheduled meetings. Two months after she complained to the corporate office, she was fired from her job.

Workplace discrimination and harassment based on an employee’s gender is forbidden under state and federal law. Sexual harassment may take other forms in addition to inappropriate touching. Treating a worker differently just because of her gender may also constitute sexual harassment. When a person is then fired in retaliation for filing a complaint, additional lawsuit grounds may lie.

Source: ABC 10, “Chula Vista woman sues Starbucks for sexual harassment”, Cristin Severance, Feb. 3, 2015