(Reuters) – A former Starbucks Corp. barista in New Jersey sued the coffee chain on Thursday, claiming she was fired illegally for not wanting to wear a "PROUD" T-shirt, which she said was contrary to her religious beliefs. believe.
Betsy Fresse said her August 2019 dismissal from a Glen Ridge, New Jersey store, near her Newark home, for alleged violations of Starbucks' "core values" amounted to unlawful religious discrimination under federal civil rights.
The Seattle-based chain's website states that Starbucks values "creating a culture of warmth and belonging" and is committed to respecting inclusion and diversity.
According to the complaint, Starbucks violates this commitment by trying to “exclude and silence Mrs. Fresse, whose religious beliefs were considered undesirable.
Ms. Fresse is seeking unspecified damages.
A Starbucks spokesman said Freese's claims had no merit.
"Starbucks aims to create a warm and welcoming environment for partners (employees) and customers," the spokesman said. "Apart from our green apron, no part of our dress code requires partners to wear approved items that they have not personally chosen."
Ms. Fresse's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The complaint states that Fresse considers that “marriage is defined in the Bible as only between a man and a woman, and that all sexual activity that takes place outside this context is contrary to her understanding of biblical teaching.
Ms. Fresse said that her boss told her in June 201
She said that Starbucks' ethics and compliance help later contacted her, and she replied that she was opposed to wearing the T-shirt because of her religious beliefs.
The dismissal notice quoted Fresse after claiming that she "stated that she did not want to wear a PRIDE T-shirt and that partners need Jesus." " Miss. Fresse said she did not discriminate against customers during her 3 1/2 years at Starbucks.
The case is Fresse v Starbucks Corp US District Court, District of New Jersey.