PORTLAND, Maine – A Portland woman's age discrimination lawsuit against coffee giant Starbucks appears headed for trial early next year.
A federal judge in Portland denied a motion to dismiss Deborah Boyajian's lawsuit alleging that she was denied a job as a barista because of her age.
Boyajian, 56, claimed that age was the only reason Starbucks failed to hire her when she submitted multiple applications to stores in the Portland area in 2005 and 2006.
Her lawyer, Anne Carney of Portland, said the manager who declined to hire Boyajian ignored the company's hiring practices and lied to her about why she was not hired. None of the 19 employees hired by the manager was older than 30, Carney said.
The company argued that Boyajian was rejected for employment because of her personality, her behavior toward Starbucks employees and errors on her applications.
"Plaintiff's claims are based on nothing more than her own speculation that she was a victim of discrimination, fueled in part by her high assessment of herself as an applicant," wrote Scott Merrill of Boston, an attorney for Starbucks.
Boyajian took her initial complaint to the Human Rights Commission, which found grounds for a lawsuit.
She is seeking up to $300,000 in punitive damages, along with the more than $20,000 in wages she claims she would have earned if hired, plus $40,000 in lawyer's fees and costs.
Chief U.S. District Judge George Singal's order clears the way for a civil trial in February unless a settlement is reached.