Nonbinary Former Starbucks Barista Alleges Misgendering by Supervisors

Nonbinary Former Starbucks Barista Alleges Misgendering by Supervisors

  • A former Starbucks barista said in a lawsuit that their supervisors repeatedly misgendered them.
  • The barista faced sexual harassment and gender discrimination, per the allegations in the lawsuit.
  • A Starbucks spokesperson said the claims lacked merit and the chain would defend itself “vigorously.”

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A former Starbucks barista who identifies as non-binary has sued the coffee chain, claiming that supervisors repeatedly misgendered them.

The lawsuit, filed in Illinois on November 9, says that Brie Boyle “was subjected to a continuing pattern of sexual harassment and gender discrimination” by two supervisors while they worked at Starbucks.

Boyle was told to “man up” when they complained about the behavior, the lawsuit says. Boyle was also physically pushed by a shift supervisor, and was ultimately wrongly terminated by the chain, the lawsuit says.

A Starbucks spokesperson told Insider: “The claims made in this lawsuit lack merit and we intend to defend our case vigorously.”

The spokesperson said: “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.”

Boyle started working at a Starbucks store in Homewood, about 20 miles south of Chicago, in September 2019, per the lawsuit. Around two months later, Boyle told their colleagues 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,” the lawsuit says.

Around the same time, staff and management at the store learned that Boyle was bisexual, the lawsuit says.

“From the moment information concerning Plaintiff’s gender and sexual 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 between November of 2019 and May of 2020,” the lawsuit says.

It claims that the store’s manager and a shift supervisor both misgendered Boyle by using male pronouns, even after Boyle asked them to stop.

The shift supervisor verbally harassed Boyle “at nearly every shift they worked together,” according to the lawsuit. On one occasion a shift supervisor told Boyle to “man up” and that they were “too sensitive” after Boyle complained about her behavior, per the lawsuit.

The store manager refused to take action against this when asked to, the lawsuit says.

It further alleges that both the store manager and shift supervisor didn’t respond to multiple requests from Boyle to either be moved to a different store, or to be given different shifts to their shift supervisor. Both told Boyle not to file formal complaints with Starbucks’ human resources department, per the lawsuit.

On May 21, 2020, the shift supervisor “began humiliating and yelling at Plaintiff about their gender identity in front of the entire staff,” per the lawsuit. She then physically pushed Boyle, the lawsuit says.

Boyle contacted the store manager later that day to report the incident and request a store transfer, per the lawsuit. Later that month, Starbucks terminated Boyle’s employment “without any legitimate, non-pretextual reason,” the lawsuit says.

Boyle is seeking damages of more than $100,000 for lost wages and benefits, emotional pain and suffering, and humiliation, among other things, as well as an injunction restraining Starbucks “from future discriminatory actions,” according to the lawsuit.


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