Starbucks agreed in April to pay a former lead network engineer in Seattle $120,000 plus a mediator's fee to settle a lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination and retaliation "so severe that it required him to take a medical leave of absence."

Starbucks agreed in April to pay a former lead network engineer in Seattle $120,000 plus a mediator’s fee to settle a lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination and retaliation “so severe that it required him to take a medical leave of absence.”

Victor Washington of Shoreline, who is African-American and worked for Starbucks from September 2006 until May 2008, alleges in the July 2008 lawsuit that a white co-worker made racist comments to him such as repeatedly telling him to “fetch” the co-worker’s umbrella and tie his shoes for him. In the lawsuit, Washington says he complained to his supervisor and to Starbucks’ human resources department, and that they took no action, although the supervisor increased his workload and gave him undesirable assignments.

Starbucks said in a written statement that it investigated Washington’s allegations while he worked there and found them without merit, and that it settled the case to avoid further legal costs.

The company wrote Washington a check for $120,000, which it says in a court filing was “compensation for emotional distress and attorneys’ fees.” But Washington has not cashed it, and Starbucks last week asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to enforce the settlement.