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Starbucks’ petition denied: Coffee giant must reinstate fired workers in Memphis

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Starbucks claimed that it fired these employees for violating company policy during the Jan. 18 media event, including by:

  1. being in the store while off duty
  2. entering the back-of-house or counter area while off duty
  3. unlocking a locked door to allow an unauthorized person to enter while off duty
  4. activating the safe and handling cash while off duty
  5. supervising while these offenses were being committed.

However, “violations such as these were rarely, if ever, punished,” said the judges at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and that “on occasion, management appears to have even encouraged them”.

“Under these circumstances, Starbucks’s termination of the Memphis Seven – including six of the seven members of the organizing committee – mere weeks after the media event would almost certainly chill other partners’ exercise of rights protected by the Act.”

They added that the district court “did not err in concluding that the termination of 80% of the organization committee during a unionization campaign could lead to injury to the union movement that subsequent board intervention would not be able to remedy.”

In April 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) also called on Starbucks to reinstate three workers at its Phoenix location with their usual schedules and accommodations. And just this year, the NLRB ordered the coffee giant to reinstate seven workers, at its Buffalo, NY location, who were fired for their union activity.

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