FILED: KINGS COUNTY CLERK 02/01/2013

NYSCEF DOC. NO. 1

INDEX NO. 500514/2013 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 02/01/2013

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF KINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------X ALICIA V. BROOKS, Plaintiff(s), -against-

Index No: Date purchased: Plaintiffs designates: KINGS County as the place of trial SUMMONS The basis of the venue is Plaintiff’s Residence Plaintiff resides at 919 Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11206 County of KINGS

STARBUCKS CORPORATION., and DIJA FRASER Defendants. ----------------------------------------------------------------X To the above named Defendant

YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED to answer the complaint in this action and to serve a copy of your answer, or, if the complaint is not served with this summons, to serve a notice of appearance, on the plaintiff's attorney within 20 days after the service of this summons, exclusive of the day of service (or within 30 days after the service is complete if this summons is not personally delivered to you within the State of New York); and in case of your failure to appear or answer, judgment will be taken against you by default for the relief demanded in the complaint. Dated: New York, New York February 1, 2013 AKIN LAW GROUP PLLC Attorneys for Plaintiff /s/ Emre Polat ___________________________ By: Emre Polat, Esq. 45 Broadway, Suite 2650 New York, New York 10006 (212) 825-1400 Defendants' Address: STARBUCKS COFFEE c/o NEW YORK SECRETARY OF STATE DIJA FRASER 330 5th Avenue New York, New York 10001

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF KINGS ---------------------------------------------------------------------X ALICIA V. BROOKS, Plaintiffs, -againstSTARBUCKS CORPORATION., and DIJA FRASER Defendants. ---------------------------------------------------------------------X

Index No:

VERIFIED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, by her attorneys, AKIN LAW GROUP PLLC, upon information and belief, complains of the Defendants as follows: 1. Plaintiff complains pursuant to the laws of the State of New York and the Administrative Code of the City of New York, seeking damages to redress the injuries Plaintiff has suffered as a result of being harassed, discriminated against, discharged and retaliated against by her former employer on the basis of her sex, race, national origin and for reporting the conduct to which she was subjected. 2. That at all times hereinafter mentioned, the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS was and still is a resident of the County of Kings, City and State of New York. 3. That at all times hereinafter mentioned, the Defendant STARBUCKS CORPORATION, (hereinafter “STARBUCKS”) was and is a domestic business entity duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of New York. 4. That at all times hereinafter mentioned, the Defendant STARBUCKS is a foreign business entity duly authorized to conduct business in the State of New York. 5. That at all times hereinafter mentioned, the Defendant STARBUCKS, was and is an entity organized to conduct business in the State of New York.

6.

That at all times hereinafter mentioned, the Defendant STARBUCKS operated a business at 330 5th Avenue, New York, New York 10001.

7.

That at all times herein relevant, Defendant DIJA FRASER was and is a resident of the State of New York.

8.

That at all times herein relevant, Defendant DIJA FRASER was and is a resident of the State of New York, County of Kings.

9.

That at all times herein relevant, Defendant DIJA FRASER was an agent, servant and/or employee of Defendant STARBUCKS.

10. That at all times herein relevant, Defendant DIJA FRASER acted in the course of her employment with the Defendant STARBUCKS. 11. That at all times herein relevant, Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS was an employee of Defendant STARBUCKS. 12. That at all times herein relevant, the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS was employed by Defendant STARBUCKS. 13. That at all times herein relevant, the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS was employed by Defendant STARBUCKS as a store manager assigned to Store 7696. 14. That at all times herein relevant, the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS commenced employment with Defendant STARBUCKS on or about February 15, 2005. 15. That at all times herein relevant, the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS had been a stellar employee receiving numerous praises, elevating to the position of Store Manger. 16. That the Plaintiff, ALICIA BROOKS was earning approximately $52,000.00 per year at the time of her termination.

17. That throughout Plaintiff’s employment, the Defendants subjected the Plaintiff ALICIA BROOKS to numerous acts of sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination and employment practices, including but not limited to the following: a. On or about January 27, 2012 Juliette (employee of Defendant) asked Plaintiff for a transfer for unknown reasons. To accommodate the request, Plaintiff sent Julie to another store. Juliette returned and advised Plaintiff that she called the police for reasons unknown to Plaintiff. Police arrived at the store and arrested Plaintiff for allegedly assaulting Julie, which could not be further from the truth. Subsequently Juliet dropped all the charges and stated that it was a misunderstanding and said she did not mean for anything to go this far. b. In the meantime, Defendant STARBUCKS suspended the Plaintiff (although she was the true victim) for two weeks, without conducting any investigation as to allegations made by Juliette. c. Joshua Dufek, interim District Manger, along with Victoria Anderson, Human Resources Manager, called Plaintiff for a hearing rather than investigate her complaints. d. At the hearing, rather than listening to Plaintiff’s complaints, she was accused of being in a “close relationship.” Their definition of a “close relationship” was being in a personal/sexual lesbian relationship with Juliette. e. In addition, Plaintiff was ordered to sign an acknowledgement admitting that she has had an “improper” [implying sexual] relationship with Juliette. f. Plaintiff was devastated, embarrassed, humiliated, degraded and was caused to suffer emotional distress as a result of being called a lesbian and for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with Juliette. Plaintiff was not and is not gay; nor has Plaintiff ever had a gay, lesbian, and/or sexual relationship with Juliette. g. Plaintiff refused to sign the acknowledgment since it was simply not true despite knowing that Defendant STARBUCKS would retaliate against her. h. The Defendants retaliated against the Plaintiff for refusing to sign the acknowledgement by accusing her of lying, telling her that their perception is reality and scrutinizing her in a manner where other employees in her position have not been scrutinized. i. In addition, as further retaliation, the Defendants denied the Plaintiff’s request for a transfer and placed the Plaintiff back to work in the original store where she had been ridiculed, where rumors of her being a lesbian and engaging in a relationship with Juliette was rampant and told, “running is not the solution;” j. Furthermore, while placing the Plaintiff in said store, Defendants not only failed take any corrective action; the Defendants (especially the Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER) continued the rumors of Plaintiff being gay / lesbian). k. Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER was also harassing Plaintiff, constantly and persistently telling her that she should just admit that she is a lesbian. l. Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER stated to Plaintiff "are you going to tell me you and Juliette were not in a relationship" and after Plaintiff adamantly denied such

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sexually hostile allegations, Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER continued by stating, “perception is reality.” This was a phrase that Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER used over and over again, any and all opportunities she had and often in front of other employees (further instigating the sexual harassment) “perception is reality” implying that Plaintiff appears to be a lesbian and as such, must be one. Despite Plaintiff telling Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER that she was highly offended by these remarks and allegations, Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER continued in a relentless manner. Despite Plaintiff advising Human Resources at Defendant STARBUCKS of Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER’s offensive comments, Defendant STARBUCKS did not take any action against Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER whatsoever, thereby consenting and encouraging her to continue with these remarks; it was these remarks by DÉJÀ FRASER that had the most significant (if not the sole) cause of encouraging, allowing and instigating others to sexually harass the Plaintiff. Upon Plaintiff return to her store, she was now more of a target for harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff was constantly being accused of being gay, of being a lesbian by the Defendants and all of their employees. This information was relayed to the employees in the store by Defendant STARBUCKS and Defendant DÉJÀ FRASER. The employees of Defendant STARBUCKS would talk out load, and referring to Plaintiff, state “they rub feet together every night” (implying that the Plaintiff and Juliette are in bed together). Kenny, Denis and Jonathan (another manager) would outright call Plaintiff gay and make gay innuendos. Then during a managers meeting (11 managers) Jonathon Oliver, Store manager in another store, asked Plaintiff if she is a lesbian in a manner suggesting a yes answer. Mr. Oliver advised Plaintiff that the rumor of Plaintiff being gay is wide spread through Defendant STARBUCKS’ coffee where Defendant is not taking any acts or actions to put a stop or to deny these false rumors. Subsequently, Kenny Rochelin told Plaintiff “I know what happened between you and Juliet” implying that she is gay and was sexually involved with Juliette. Despite Plaintiff’s complaints to the Defendants, Kenny was never advised by the Defendants to holt such conduct and continued posting inappropriate and unprofessional comments on social network sites labeling the Plaintiff as a lesbian and would come to work following such postings and discuss the comments with fellow employees and even customers. Plaintiff advised Mr. Rochelin that this type of talk would not be tolerated and may result in his termination. Upon hearing this, Denis Alvarez, another employee at Defendant STARBUCKS told the Plaintiff that if she terminates Kenny’s employment, he would tell Josh, the district manager that she is in a relationship with Juliette, knowing it was false to have her terminated or reprimanded and implied that the Defendants already have such a belief making the Plaintiff’s denial all but futile.

x. Plaintiff advised Human Resources at Defendant STARBUCKS of Mr. Rochelin’s threats, only to be told, “give him a warning” and refused to take any active roll or engage in any actual action to put an end to the hostilities. y. Defendant STARBUCKS, by its agents, servant and employees created a hostile work environment, encouraged a hostile work environment, condoned the continuation of hostilities and upon receiving complaints and transfer requests to that effect, terminated Plaintiff in retaliation, while continuing to protect and employ those that have committed the discrimination/harassment. z. Plaintiff feared all along that her complaints would be answered with retaliation, and shortly after making the complaint, all of her fears became true; after Plaintiff started reporting the hostile work environment and continued making complaints regarding the abuse and the harassment to which she was being subjected, the hostilities increased resulting in her eventual termination. 18. Defendants unlawfully harassed, discriminated against and retaliated against the Plaintiff. 19. Defendants created an unlawful hostile work environment for the Plaintiff. 20. Defendants treated Plaintiff differently because of her sex and sexual orientation. 21. Defendants subjected Plaintiff to unwelcome and sexually offensive conduct. 22. During Plaintiff’s employment with the Defendants, Plaintiff was and continued to be regularly exposed to a discriminatory, offensive and hostile work environment. 23. Plaintiff has been unlawfully harassed, discriminated and retaliated against, was humiliated, and has been degraded and belittled. 24. Plaintiff’s situation at her job was intolerable as a result of the sexual harassment and discrimination by Defendants to which she was subjected, and no reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position could be expected to continue working under those conditions. 25. Throughout Plaintiff’s employment with Defendants, Plaintiff would protest and complain to Defendants about this unlawful conduct to no avail. 26. The Defendant STARBUCKS CORPORATION terminated Plaintiff’s employment while continuing to protect and employ the Defendant FRASER who committed the sexual harassment and created the hostile work environment.

27. In retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment and the hostile work environment, the Defendants further escalated the discrimination and harassment which lead to the termination of Plaintiff’s employment. 28. Plaintiff's performance was, upon information and belief, above average during the course of employment with the Defendants. 29. The Defendant STARBUCKS CORPORATION has caused damage and injury to the Plaintiff by first subjecting her to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment and then again by protecting the individual(s) that caused and created the hostile work environment while retaliating against her resulting in the termination of Plaintiff’s employment. 30. Defendants’ actions and conduct were intentional and intended to harm the Plaintiff. 31. As a result of Defendant’s actions, Plaintiff felt extremely humiliated, degraded, victimized, embarrassed, and emotionally distressed. 32. As a result of the Defendant’s actions, Plaintiff has suffered economic loss. 33. As a result of the Defendants' discriminatory and intolerable treatment, Plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress. 34. As a result of the acts and conduct complained of herein, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer the loss of income, the loss of a salary, bonuses, benefits and other compensation which such employment entails, and Plaintiff has also suffered future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses. Plaintiff has further experienced severe emotional and physical distress.

35. As a result of the above Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts. 36. As Defendants’ conduct has been willful, reckless, outrageous, intentional and/or malicious, Plaintiff also demands punitive damages in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

AS A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION FOR DISCRIMINATION UNDER STATE LAW 37. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs of this complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length. 38. Executive Law § 296 provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice: (a) For an employer or licensing agency, because of the age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or marital status of any individual, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. 39. Defendant engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of New York State Executive Law § 296 by taking adverse employment action, engaging in sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, creating and maintaining discriminatory and hostile working conditions, and otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of her sex, sexual orientation, and perceived sexual orientation. 40. That as a direct result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

AS A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION FOR DISCRIMINATION UNDER STATE LAW 41. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs of this complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length. 42. New York State Executive Law §296(7) provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice: "For any person engaged in any activity to which this section applies to retaliate or discriminate against any person because [s]he has opposed any practices forbidden under this article."

43. Defendant engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice by taking adverse employment action, retaliating, and otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of Plaintiff’s opposition to the unlawful employment practices of Defendants. 44. That as a direct result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

AS A THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION FOR DISCRIMINATION UNDER THE NEW YORK CITY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE 45. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs of this complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length. 46. The Administrative Code of City of NY § 8-107 [1] provides that "It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice: "(a) For an employer or an employee or agent thereof, because of the actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status of any person, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such person or to discriminate against such person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment."

47. Defendant engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of New York City Administrative Code Title 8, §8-107(1)(a) by taking adverse employment action, engaging in sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, creating and maintaining discriminatory and hostile working conditions, and otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of her sex, sexual orientation, and perceived sexual orientation. 48. That as a direct result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

AS A FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION FOR DISCRIMINATION UNDER THE NEW YORK CITY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE 49. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs of this complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length. 50. The New York City Administrative Code Title 8, §8-107(1)(e) provides that it shall be unlawful discriminatory practice: "For an employer . . . to discharge . . . or otherwise discriminate against any person because such person has opposed any practices forbidden under this chapter. . . " 51. Defendant engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of New York City Administrative Code Title 8, §8-107(1)(e) by taking adverse employment action and otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of Plaintiff’s opposition to the unlawful employment practices of Plaintiff’s employer. 52. That as a direct result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

AS AN FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION FOR INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS 53. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs of this complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length. 54. Defendants engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct. 55. Defendants intended to cause, or disregarded a substantial probability of causing, severe emotional distress to Plaintiff. 56. There exists a causal connection between the above conduct and said injury. 57. As a result of said conduct Plaintiff suffered and suffers from severe emotional distress. 58. That as a direct result of the foregoing, the Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower Courts.

INJURY AND DAMAGES 59. As a result of the acts and conduct complained of herein, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer the loss and/or partial loss of a career and the loss and/or partial loss of a salary, bonuses, commissions, benefits and other compensation which such employment entails, out-of-pocket medical expenses and Plaintiff has also suffered future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, injury to reputation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses. Plaintiff has further experienced severe emotional and physical distress.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully requests a judgment against the Defendants: A. Declaring that the Defendants engaged in unlawful employment practice prohibited by state common law, New York State Executive Law §296 et. Seq. and The New

York City Administrative Code Title 8, §8-107 et. Seq.; and that the Defendants harassed, discriminated against, took adverse employment action against, and retaliated against Plaintiff on the basis of her sex; B. Awarding damages to the Plaintiff, retroactive to the date of her transfer, for all lost wages and benefits resulting from Defendants' unlawful employment practices; C. Awarding Plaintiff compensatory damages for mental, emotional and physical injury, distress, pain and suffering and injury to her reputation in an amount that exceeds the jurisdictional limit of all lower courts; D. Awarding Plaintiff punitive damages; E. Awarding Plaintiff attorney's fees, costs, and expenses; and F. Awarding Plaintiff such other and further relief as the Court may deem equitable, just and proper to remedy the Defendants’ unlawful employment practices. Dated: New York, New York February 1, 2013 Respectfully Submitted AKIN LAW GROUP PLLC Attorneys for Plaintiff /s/ Emre Polat __________________________ By: Emre Polat, Esq. 45 Broadway, Suite 2650 New York, NY 10006 (212) 825-1400

ATTORNEY'S VERIFICATION

I, EMRE POLAT, being duly sworn deposes and state under the penalties of perjury that: I am an attorney duly admitted to practice law in the courts of New York State and am an associate of AKIN LAW GROUP PLLC, the attorneys of record for the plaintiff in the within action; I have read the foregoing, VERIFIED COMPLAINT, and know the contents thereof; the same is true to my own knowledge, except as to the matters therein alleged to be on information and belief, and as to those matters I believe them to be true. The reason this verification is made by me and not by the plaintiff is that the plaintiff resides in a county other than where we maintain our office. The grounds of my belief as to all matters not stated upon my own knowledge are as follows: Conversations with the plaintiff, review of file and all the pleadings and proceedings heretofore had herein.

Dated: New York, New York February 1, 2013

/s/ Emre Polat _____________________________ EMRE POLAT, ESQ.

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF KINGS ---------------------------------------------------------------------X ALICIA BROOKS, Plaintiffs, -againstSTARBUCKS CORPORATION., and DIJA FRASER Defendants. ---------------------------------------------------------------------X

Index No:

_______________________________________________________________________________ SUMMONS AND VERIFIED COMPLAINT ______________________________________________________________________________

AKIN LAW GROUP PLLC Attorneys for Plaintiff 45 Broadway, Suite 2650 New York, New York 10006 Tel. (212) 825-1400 Fax. (212) 825-1440

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