Starbucks sued by employee ‘passed over for promotion for being gay and looking like a boy’

Starbucks is being sued by an employee who alleges she was passed over for promotion because she’s gay and “looks like a boy”. 

The civil case action has been brought by Jahmelia (Jay) Peters, who says that, despite her experience, she was denied a promotion at a Starbucks outlet in New York state because of her sexuality, gender identity and gender expression. 

According to Peters, her manager at the coffee shop in White Plains, Westchester County, told colleagues that she would not be promoted because she was gay and “looks like a boy”. 

Following this, Peters claims, she was fired while on her break for questioning the manager’s decision and says she has not received her final pay. 

Peters claims that another female colleague, whom the manager allegedly took an inappropriate interest in, was promoted over her, even though that employee had less experience and said she did not want the new job. 

In a press release sharing details of the case, the law firm representing Peters claimed the manager would share “intimate flirtatious text messages” with other female employees. 

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Peters is seeking compensatory damages for lost wages and emotional distress, including back pay, alongside punitive damages for Starbucks’ conduct. 

Starbucks staff went on strike in June, claiming they were not allowing to mark Pride Month. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“This is a human rights issue,” stated Bennitta Joseph, a partner at Joseph & Norinsberg. “Ms. Peters was denied the civil right to fair treatment in the workplace based on her gender expression, identity and sexual orientation.” 

This is not the first time LGBTQ+ workers have taken issue with the international hot-drinks chain. 

In June, thousands of Starbucks employees went on strike after their union claimed the company banned Pride decorations in stores. 

Starbucks Workers United confirmed that more than 150 stores and 3,500 workers took part in the walk-out because of the “treatment of queer and trans workers”.

Starbucks denied the staff claims, saying it “unwaveringly” supports the LGBTQ+ community. 

“For Starbucks, US Pride month is just one of the moments we support and celebrate our LGBTQIA2+ partners and the community, and it’s our own partners who inform the commitments and actions we have continued to take for more than four decades,” the company told PinkNews at the time.