A woman who worked at a Starbucks in New Jersey has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, claiming she was fired for refusing to wear an LGBTQ Pride t-shirt.
Betsy Fresse, who is a Christian from Newark, New Jersey, worked as a barista in Hoboken in 2018 and states in her lawsuit that the managers knew of her religious beliefs, as she requested Sundays and certain evenings off to attend church gatherings, as NBC News reported.
Later, Fresse transferred to a Starbucks in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She claims that in June 2019, the store manager conducted a meeting with staffers in his office, and a box of Starbucks Pride T-shirts lay by his desk. She says that being the last one to leave, she asked the manager if wearing the T-shirts was required, and the manager said it was not.
The lawsuit states that several weeks later, Starbucks’ ethics and compliance helpline contacted her about her request not to wear the shirt, and she responded that her “religious beliefs prevented her from doing so.”
On Aug. 22, 2019, Fresse was informed she was fired because “her comportment was not in compliance with Starbucks’ core values.”
“According to her notice of separation, 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,’” NBC News reported, adding, “Fresse filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February and was given the go-ahead to file suit in August.”
A Starbucks spokesperson stated that Fresse’s claims were “without merit” and Starbucks would counter her claims in court. The spokesperson continued, “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 that they have not personally selected.”
The Daily Wire reported last June of Starbucks and Black Lives Matter:
Starbucks will now allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter apparel during their shifts, a strong departure from the company’s prior stance, as articulated in an internal memo last week that subjected the company to backlash after it was leaked to Buzzfeed News
“Black lives matter and Starbucks is committed to doing our part in ending systemic racism,” said Starbucks in a Friday statement. “As a company, Starbucks leaders continue to listen to partners (employees) about how they want to take a stand for justice, while proudly wearing the green apron and standing united together.”
In a public letter also published on Friday, three Starbucks executives notified employees that they could wear their own Black Lives Matter pins or t-shirts until the company’s own affiliate t-shirts were printed.
“We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity. We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect,” said the executives.