Two former employees are suing coffee giant Starbucks after allegedly being harassed my an anti-gay executive.
Joseph Hooks and Dorothy Baker both claim that Craig Sawyer, the company’s director of equal opportunity and compliance, discriminated against them because they were gay. Hooks insists, among other things, that Sawyer refused to invite him to a “boys only” lunch, lobbed around anti-gay comments and eventually told higher ups that Hooks had resigned, when in fact he had not.
Baker, meanwhile, says that Sawyer treated her differently after finding out she likes ladies. Sawyer allegedly began skipping meetings with Baker and began griping to other employees that she wasn’t up to par. The most interesting piece of this lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month, is that Sawyer reportedly has a bit of a homophobic past…
Before he was hired, Sawyer was interviewed by May Snowden, vice president of global diversity; during the interview, the suit says, he told her “in words or substance” that he had grown up in an environment, including military service, “where there was prejudice against homosexuals.” According to the lawsuit, Sawyer told her he was on a “personal journey to overcome this bias in himself.”
Now, why on earth would Starbucks hire a diversity specialist who admitted to harboring homophobic sentiments? Maybe they thought it would help him, who knows?
Starbucks didn’t comment on the particulars of the lawsuit, but said they “regret” Hooks and Baker feel they were treated unfairly. The company also reiterated its commitment to workplace equality, “We are proud of our long history as a leading, progressive employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.” Starbucks has offered same-sex benefits since the late 1970s, which explains why HRC and others given it the gay stamp of approval.