A former Starbucks employee sued the company this week alleging that she was fired because she refused to wear a T-shirt that promoted LGBT “pride” due to her religious beliefs.
According to the lawsuit, Betsy Fresse attended a meeting in her manager’s office at a New Jersey location in June 2019 when she noticed a box of Starbucks-branded “pride” shirts.
Fresse asked her manager if she would be required to wear one, since doing so would violate her Christian belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Her manager assured her that she would not, the lawsuit states.
However, several weeks later Fresse said she was contacted by Starbucks’ ethics and compliance department and asked about why she would not wear the “pride” T-shirt.
Fresse said she explained to the company official that doing so would compromise her faith.
Shortly thereafter, Fresse was fired because “her comportment was not in compliance with Starbucks’ core values.”
Fresse argued in the lawsuit that while she “holds no enmity toward individuals who ascribe to the LGBTQ lifestyle and/or make up the LGBTQ community, [she] believes that being made to wear a Pride T-shirt as a condition of employment would be tantamount to forced speech and inaccurately show her advocacy of a lifestyle in direct contradiction to her religious beliefs.”
Starbucks said in a statement that Fresse was never required to wear the “pride” T-shirt and claimed her lawsuit was “without merit.”
“Specific to our dress code, other than our green apron, no part of our dress code requires partners to wear any approved items that they have not personally selected,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Fresse, however, also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and seeks back pay with interest, compensation for emotional suffering, punitive damages, and payment of her attorney fees.