Former barista who identifies as non-binary sues Starbucks for gender discrimination: “Insults and mistreatment”

Amy Christie

A former Starbucks barista has brought a lawsuit against the coffee chain claiming that they were repeatedly misgendered by supervisors, even though they identified as non-binary.

What are the details?

The complaint was filed in Illinois, and it states that Brie Boyle "was subjected to a continuing pattern of harassment and gender discrimination" by two of their supervisors while they were employed at Starbucks, according to Insider.

Boyle was reportedly told to just “man up” when they highlighted the disturbing behavior, the lawsuit points out. The employee was also pushed by a shift supervisor, and ultimately had to deal with wrongful termination, the lawsuit adds.

How did Starbucks react?

"The claims made in this lawsuit lack merit, and we intend to defend our case vigorously,” a Starbucks spokesperson shared with the outlet.

"We pride ourselves in creating a welcoming environment where everyone in our community, partners (employees), and customers can bring their whole selves to work and have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” the spokesperson added.

Boyle began working for Starbucks in a Homewood store, about 20 miles away from Chicago. Two months after getting the job, Boyle told co-workers and managers that "they were in the process of transitioning from male to non-binary gender status for several months and wished to be recognized as non-binary," as stated in the complaint.

"From the moment information concerning Plaintiff's gender and orientation became known to their co-workers and management, Plaintiff was forced to deal with insults and mistreatment nearly every time Plaintiff worked a shift,” the lawsuit specifies.

It is claimed that a store manager and one of the shift supervisors misgendered Boyle several times and kept using the wrong pronouns to address them, even after Boyle asked them to stop doing that.

The lawsuit also points out that the shift supervisor “verbally harassed Boyle at nearly every shift they worked together.”

On one occasion another shift supervisor reportedly told Boyle they were being “too sensitive” about the behavior.

The complaint also lists that the store manager refused to step in and stop what was going on and that the manager and the shift supervisor both ignored Boyle’s requests to either work a different shift or to be moved to a different Starbucks location.

Boyle was told to file a formal complaint with the HR department at Starbucks.

Just a few days before the end of their employment, the shift supervisor “began humiliating and yelling at Plaintiff about their gender identity in front of the entire staff," the lawsuit states and then pushed Boyle.

Boyle reported the behavior to the store manager on the same day and asked to be transferred to a different store. A few days later, Boyle lost their job "without any legitimate, non-pretextual reason."

HomewoodIllinoisStarbucksbaristagender discrimination

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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