Starbucks Canada faces $1 million employee lawsuit

by |
Starbucks Canada is facing a $1 million employee lawsuit after allegations from an employee that it failed to uphold a legal duty to keep its workplace safe.
A former Starbucks barista, 23-year-old Shannon Mishimagi, has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the coffee chain after allegations that she was physically assaulted and threatened by her supervisor Gurjaspreet Jolly.
The Toronto Star reports that Mishimagi alleges she was forced to work under the supervisor, though she had complained to management about him, meaning the company had failed to uphold its duty to keep her workplace safe.
An early statement from Starbucks Canada’s spokesperson to the allegations said the company could not yet comment on the specifics of the matter.
“We take these claims very seriously as they are not consistent with our values and who we are as a company,” The Toronto Star reports the statement read.
“Starbucks has robust policies and procedures for investigating partner complaints, which we have employed in this case. Since this is a personal matter involving one of our partners (employees), the details are confidential.”
Starbucks is yet to file a statement of defense, and The Star was unable to speak with Jolly or the Bloor and Runnymede Starbucks where it took place.
Mishimagi’s statement of claim includes allegations of physical assault, verbal abuse, and multiple instances of being physically threatened. A pattern of intimidating behavior included “threats to use various harmful substances in hazardous ways, and use of violent, disrespectful and threatening gestures.”
Speaking with The Star, Mishimagi said the abuse culminated with Jolly “aggressively” touching her from behind on 31 October 2014.
Mishimagi’s statement of claim argues that Starbucks “failed to act on the report in any matter”, and then forced her to work with Jolly or, after he was moved to another location, in conditions where she may come into contact with him.
She allegedly suffered from stress and insomnia, causing her to defer the fourth year of her fashion communications degree at Ryerson University.
Mishimagi told The Star she felt “a lot of emotion”, but was pursuing the lawsuit for other low paid workers. “I feel good in standing up. It’s not just for me.”
She said she wanted to speak out because so many of her co-workers were young and poorly paid, which she feared made it difficult for many to confront what she called an inexcusable disregard for workers’ rights. “To me it was like, you’re condoning his behaviour and making a fool out of me.”
Her lawyer Saron Gebresellassi said that the lawsuit was “not about the money.” “But what we’re really seeking from the employer is some kind of acknowledgement that we need to protect our workers.” A further claim against the supervisor has been filed with police, according to Gebresellassi.
  • Sherry Knight on 2015-09-10 9:02:05 AM

    Employers have an ethical and moral obligation to ensure employees are safe as well as a physical obligation. Every employer needs to revisit this with all employees and hold supervisors and managers accountable at all times.

  • Judith McLean on 2015-09-10 10:11:04 AM

    Small biz owners need Respectful Workplace training and fed-prov $ r there for them

  • Herry on 2015-09-10 11:06:16 AM

    This company is ripping off Canada because of corruption but harper will do nothing because he too, is also corrupt !!! harper should be executed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sue on 2015-09-10 12:48:32 PM

    Sadly I see this a lot, I complained to senior management with my own company about a supervisor who was a sociopath and was told by the Workplace Harassment Group they had no jurisdiction. It was mentally and physically sickening as he was destroying my work reputation in the Executive Boardrooms. They let him get away with the abuse. He went onto other workplaces and did the same thing in those offices....... I was in management group so I was forced to pay for my own lawyer who told me not to make waves. Everyone in my office knew what he was doing he only stopped when my parent died, that I was caring for on my own at the time - the stress was unbelievable - I am surprized I made it but I was taught a good work ethic and stayed to the end.

  • Jeannie McQuaid on 2015-09-10 4:24:08 PM

    A million dollars....but, no, it's not about the money.

  • Jeannie McQuaid on 2015-09-10 4:48:04 PM

    Sue, good for you for persevering. It's very sad that you got fluffed off by your Workplace Harassment Team followed such mealy mouthed advice from your lawyer. Sometimes we just have to be patient and let Karma take its course.

  • Tina on 2015-09-12 11:27:50 PM

    Same here. My boss also did the same to me and instead I was fired and left without job. It is a shame that board and other executives of these type of companies are corrupted. They don't care about people and think that they can do anything. This has to stop.

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions