Caffeine-craving Los Angeles area residents have likely ventured into a Starbucks at some point or another. The west coast-based company has grown into a multi-billion dollar global giant estimated to employ more than 150,000 employees worldwide. While corporate communications materials refer to employees as “partners” who are encouraged to “inspire positive change in the world “; at least one 27-year-old female employee had a very different experience while employed with the company.

The woman, who worked as a barista, recently filed a lawsuit against her former employer in which she details the sexual harassment she suffered at the hands of her co-workers. According to the lawsuit, the 27-year-old claims she was retaliated against and fired after sending a formal complaint to her supervisor about the sexual harassment.

The 27-year-old is seeking to recover damages related to the sexual harassment she suffered as well as Starbuck’s alleged response. In the lawsuit, the 27-year-old describes the routine harassment she suffered at the hands of her male co-workers. She contends she was “touched and massaged” and that her male co-workers referred to her by a sexually-explicit nickname.

Despite the woman’s attempts to rebuff the unwanted comments and physical contact, the harassment persisted. Finally, fed up and seeking to put an end to the unwanted advances and comments, the 27-year-old sent a formal complaint to her district manager. Less than one month later, she was fired.

The company contends the 27-year-old was fired because she requested that a co-worker remain at work for 45 extra minutes. However, the former employee believes her firing was in retaliation for filing the complaint.

Larger companies, like Starbucks, are required to have policies that explicitly ban employees from engaging in any kind of harassing, discriminatory or bullying behaviors. However, despite these policies; harassment, discrimination and bullying still occur with far too much frequency. From an off-color comment to unwanted physical contact, employees should not be forced to deal with any type of workplace harassment or discrimination.

Source: Syracuse.com, “Barista claims Starbucks fired her over sexual harassment complaint against co-workers,” Ben Axelson, May 30, 2014