A Starbucks employee fired after more than 20 years with the company says she was essentially scapegoated in 2020 after another employee was caught spitting into a police officer’s drink.
Kelly Hansen-Grossman of the Hewitt section of West Milford filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Starbucks Corporation on January 6, as first reported by NorthJersey.com.
She has also accused the company of disability discrimination based on a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.
Two seniors at his company have also been named as defendants, district manager Matthew Phillips and regional manager Michael Scott, who have been further charged with invasion of privacy.
In his lawsuit, Hansen-Grossman stated that he had never been charged with bad conduct as of late July 2020, after reporting to Phillips about the allegation that a barista stole a drink from a law enforcement officer. Spit and pledged to cooperate with them to the Park Ridge Police. investigation.
A Starbucks spokesperson asked for comment, “We care deeply about each partner’s experience wearing the green apron, but with respect to our partners, we wish to comment further on private employment cases and pending litigation.” are unable to.”
exemplary work record
Hansen-Grossman was a Starbucks employee since 2000, working her way up the ranks from barista. In 2016, she became a store manager to help open the Park Ridge location.
According to his lawsuit, he was recognized by the company and local authorities for his community dedication, along with several awards.
In June 2020, the district manager visited the store with a regional manager and presented Hansen-Grossman a plaque honoring her 20 years of service with Starbucks.
A week later, one of the store’s baristas, Kevin Trejo, failed to appear for the store meeting and, a few days later, “skipped his shift.”
In July 2020, Hansen-Grossman was made aware of an allegation that Trejo was rumored to have spit into a law enforcement officer’s drink a few months earlier.
He reported the allegation to the district manager while interviewing each worker, all of whom denied having knowledge of such an incident.
Her lawsuit states that the district manager told her she could fire Trejo for leaving her shift about a week ago.
Hansen-Grossman said she didn’t feel comfortable firing Trejo, because there
There was an open investigation by Trejo from a separate allegation that he had been discriminated against by a co-worker.
Within two weeks, she received a call from a Park Ridge police detective, who said they were investigating an allegation of Trejo spitting in an officer’s drink.
Hansen-Grossman informed Starbucks of the police’s involvement, and Trejo was arrested within days of working a shift at the store.
He was charged with assault, molesting a law enforcement officer and creating a dangerous situation.
The tone of her conversations with upper management changed significantly when Hansen-Grossman followed suit.
concern over conduct
Hansen-Grossman was instructed to fire Trejo and contact Park Ridge Police to set up a meeting because of his “tremendous community outreach”.
The district and regional manager, along with another Starbucks executive, then visited the Park Ridge location and one of them said it “does not represent a multi-million dollar store,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit says the regional manager removed community photos, removed store decorations and rearranged the store’s furniture and displays.
Hansen-Grossman received a message from Park Ridge Police on a possible meeting—the district manager told her not to respond, according to the lawsuit.
The next day, the manager returned to the store and asked to see the text messages on his personal cell phone with the Park Ridge detective.
When he showed it to her, Scott grabbed her cell, scrolled through her text messages, walked in with her and read aloud the text to someone on her phone, according to Hansen-Grossman.
According to the lawsuit, he asked if he could screenshot the text thread, while also asking if he had a “personal relationship” with the officer.
Hansen-Grossman told Phillips in an email, “I was made to feel that I had done something wrong with the way I reached the police department, but I have not been given any directions or directions.”
“I love my store, my community and my company. I have been with Starbucks for over 20 years and have always been proud to be a partner. I have always felt that Starbucks was a unique company because of the support and openness we show to our partners. Today, I feel humiliated and unwanted,” Hansen-Grossman said in a July 2020 email.
The next day, another person was appointed as Park Ridge store manager, while Hansen-Grossman was told there would be “uncomfortable times ahead” according to the suit.
performance issues raised
A few days later, Phillips and another regional manager gave an “oral draft” of the Starbucks performance improvement plan, which was eventually released to Hansen-Grossman in August 2020.
The plan detailed alleged conduct and incidents said to occur in late 2019 and early 2020 — neither of which had been addressed previously, Hansen-Grossmann said.
“I believe the company is retributing against me because of the actions I took in relation to the Kevin Trejo incident. Before those events, I was celebrated as a manager and now, those events Following this, the company is falsely criticizing my performance,” Hansen-Grossman said in an email to Philips in September 2020.
The scheme initiated regular meetings for review and discussion under the PIP protocol.
According to the lawsuit, in October 2020, Hansen-Grossman’s diagnosis of attention deficit disorder came to the fore during a meeting with Phillips, in which he said that ADD spoke to him “from the perspective of a manager.”
Hansen-Grossman then reported Phillips for retaliation and Scott for invasion of privacy at Starbucks’ ethics and compliance hotline, which was followed by months of tense and belligerent meetings, according to her lawsuit.
She was fired by Phillips and another district manager on January 15, 2021, due to “failure to meet the expectation of her role and responsibilities as outlined in the store manager job description”.
Hansen-Grossman is seeking monetary compensation, including back pay.
She has also requested that Phillips and Scott be required to attend additional harassment training and anti-discrimination training.
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