A former employee of a Brooklyn, New York Starbucks is suing the company for sexual harassment, disability discrimination and retaliation
Kari Smith, a shift supervisor at various Brooklyn Starbucks locations for 11 years, has filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York after she was fired for complaining.
Ms. Smith's allegations of sexual harassment include her claim that male baristas would pin her to the wall and "grind against her." Other allegations include reference to jokes about a "rape room" in the basement of the Starbucks and regular references to female body parts.
Ms. Smith suffers from a medical condition that causes her to have fainting spells. This became the subject of ridicule from her co-workers as well. When appearing at work with bruises from a fainting spell a co-worker commented "you must like it rough" and "next time she'll do what I say." When Ms. Smith sought medical treatment for her condition she was told that she was an inconvenience to everyone and that he need to seek medical treatment was ruining everyone else's lives.
Ms. Smith complained to the store manager as well as the district manager about the conduct she was enduring at the hands of her co-workers. Nothing was done.
Ultimately Starbucks terminated Ms. Smith while she was out on approved leave for not providing the correct documentation with respect to her medical condition. The reasons offered by Starbucks for her termination raise significant questions about the actual reason Ms. Smith was fired.
Sexual harassment can include any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical conduct that creates an offensive or sexually charged work environment for employees of either gender.
If you feel that you may be the victim of sexual harassment, please contact Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP. We specialize in helping employees protect themselves.
The Wall Street Journal recently had coverage of this case.