Starbucks, not surprisingly, appears to be one more on a list of giant corporations that try to police how their employees think.
A New Jersey woman is suing the coffee titan, saying she was wrongfully fired for refusing to wear an official company homosexual “Pride” T-shirt on the grounds that it was an affront to her religious beliefs. NBC News reported the story.
When Betsy Fresse began working as a barista at a Starbucks in Hoboken, N.J. in 2018, she said in court filings, her managers knew about her religious beliefs. She often requested Sundays and some evenings off to attend church functions. A few months later, Fresse transferred to a Starbucks in Glen Ridge, N.J.
In June 2019, she and other staffers had a meeting in the store manager’s office where, Fresse claims, she saw a box of Starbucks Pride T-shirts on the floor. After meeting Fresse asked the manager if she would be required to wear the shirt at work. The manager said she would not, Fresse contends.
Per her suit, filed the week of Nov. 15 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, she was subsequently contacted by Starbucks’ ethics and compliance helpline about her request not to wear the Pride shirt. She explained to the ethics and compliance representative that she did not want to war the Pride shirt “because her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so,” the suit states.
On Aug. 22, 2019, Fresse was notified she was being terminated because “her comportment was not in compliance with Starbucks’ core values.” According to her firing notice, when she was handed a Pride shirt — which Starbucks maintains employees were not required to wear — Fresse said she didn’t want to wear it and that her co-workers “need Jesus.”
Fresse filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February and cleared to file suit in August. She’s seeking back pay with interest, compensation for emotional pain and suffering, and punitive damages.