Starbucks Faces Claims of Labor Law Violations

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. October 13, 2022
A Starbucks coffee shop

​Starbucks is defending itself from claims that it has engaged in unfair labor practices at several sites in response to unionization efforts. A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge recently concluded that the company violated the law in Michigan. The company denies any violations. We've gathered articles from SHRM Online and other media outlets on the news.

Ex-Starbucks Manager Testified Against Company

A former Starbucks manager in the Buffalo, N.Y., area testified before a labor board judge recently that Starbucks officials told him to single out pro-union employees for disciplinary action. Managers who were sent to his store after the union effort went public read him a list of pro-union employees, he said. In one case, the testifying manager added, he was encouraged by a district manager to go through the files of a longtime employee to target her with disciplinary action. A district manager also allegedly told him to make sure at least one manager was always working at the store to discourage talk about the union.

Starbucks denied the testifying manager's claims and said it "respects the right of all partners to make their decisions regarding union issues, whether they favor or oppose representation."

(Vice News) and (Bloomberg)

Judge Found Starbucks Unlawfully Fired Worker

A worker at a Starbucks in Ann Arbor, Mich., was illegally fired after working to help her store unionize, according to an NLRB judge in a recent ruling. A Starbucks spokesperson issued a statement saying the company is disappointed with the judge's decision and plans to appeal.


Violations Alleged in Texas

The NLRB has issued a complaint alleging a San Antonio store's lead union organizer was unlawfully fired. The complaint also alleges that Starbucks threatened employees they would lose benefits and the ability to transfer to other stores if they unionized and that the company attempted to engage in surveillance of union activities. After the store's union efforts became public, company managers allegedly began strict enforcement of certain policies, singling out pro-union workers.

In a statement, a Starbucks spokesperson responded, "We respect the right of all partners to make their decisions regarding union issues, whether they favor or oppose representation, and in all union dealings, including collective bargaining, we will always engage honestly and in good faith."

(Texas Public Radio)

Starbucks Agreed to Rehire Seven Fired Memphis Employees

Following a Sept. 6 appeals court ruling against Starbucks, the company agreed to rehire seven Memphis, Tenn., store employees it had fired after they participated in efforts to unionize.

(SHRM Online)

Union Drive at Starbucks Has Lost Momentum

More than 240 of Starbucks' approximately 9,000 corporate-owned U.S. stores have voted to unionize over the past year, following an initial victory in Buffalo, N.Y., last December.

The number of Starbucks stores petitioning to hold union elections has dropped dramatically in recent months. The flood of activity in the first half of the year, with a high of 71 petitions filed in March, gave way to a summer lull, with eight petitions filed in August. The NLRB is investigating more than 325 unfair labor practice charges brought by the union Workers United.

"We respect our partners' right to organize but believe the best future is created directly with partners and not a third party," company spokesman Reggie Borges said in a statement.

(Fortune) and (NPR)



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