A jury has awarded $25.6 million to a white Starbucks manager who was fired after two black men were arrested.

CAMDEN, NJ (AP) — Jurors have awarded $25.6 million in federal court to a former Starbucks regional manager who alleged he and other white employees were unfairly punished after the high-profile arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia location in 2018.

Shannon Phillips won $600,000 in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages after a jury in New Jersey on Monday overruled federal and state discrimination and found that race was a determining factor in Phillips’ shooting.

In April 2018, a Philadelphia store manager called the police on two black men sitting in a coffee shop without ordering anything. Phillips, who was regional manager of operations in Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and elsewhere, was not involved in the arrests. However, she said she was ordered to hire a white manager who was not on administrative leave for reasons she knew were wrong, according to her lawsuit.

Phillips said he was fired less than a month after objecting to the manager being placed on leave amid the uproar.According to her case.

The company’s reason for suspending the district manager, who was not responsible for the store where the arrests occurred, was allegations that black store managers were paid less than white managers, according to the lawsuit. Phillips said the argument doesn’t make sense because district managers have no input into employee salaries.

The lawsuit alleges that Starbucks took action instead of “punishing white employees” who worked in the area in an effort to “convince the community that it responded properly to the incident.”

During closing arguments Friday, Phillips’ attorney Laura Mattiacci told jurors the company was looking for a “sacrificial lamb” to quell the outrage and show it was taking action, Law360 reported. Choosing a black employee for such a purpose “would have blown up in their face,” he said.

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Starbucks denied Phillips’ allegations, saying the company needed someone with a track record of “strength and resolve” during a crisis, and replaced him with a regional manager with such experience after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.Law360 Report.

However, Phillips’ attorney cited earlier testimony from a block district manager in charge of the store where the arrests took place, who described Phillips as well-liked by his colleagues and working around the clock after the arrests.

In an email to The Associated Press, Mattiacci confirmed the award amount and said the judge will consider awarding restitution and future wages and attorney fees. Mattiacci told the New Jersey Law Journal that he will receive about $3 million in lost wages and roughly $1 million in his fee application. Starbucks declined to comment on Tuesday.

In an April 2018 incident, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a Starbucks coffee shop near Tony Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, shortly after the manager called police to report that the two men were refusing to buy or leave the premises. They were later released without charge.

The video of the arrest sparked a national outcry and led to Starbucks’ current CEO personally apologizing to the men. The company later reached a settlement An undisclosed amount with both and an offer of free college tuition. The company changed store policies and closed locations nationwide for an afternoon of racial-bias training.

Both received a symbolic dollar each with the city of Philadelphia and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. The Philadelphia Police Department has adopted a new policy on how to deal with those accused of trespassing on private property — warning businesses against abusing the power of police officers.

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