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8 Aug 2023

The Guardian

USA: Court rejects Starbucks' challenge to ruling requiring the company to rehire 'Memphis Seven', allegedly fired for supporting union efforts

"Starbucks loses court challenge against order to rehire union supporters", 8 August 2023

A US appeals court on Tuesday rejected Starbucks Corp’s challenge to a ruling requiring the coffee chain to rehire seven employees at a Memphis, Tennessee, store who were allegedly fired for supporting a union.

The decision by the Ohio-based sixth US circuit court of appeals is the first from an appeals court involving a nationwide campaign that has seen workers at more than 300 Starbucks locations vote to unionize.

A three-judge panel said that by firing the workers last year, Starbucks likely discouraged other employees from exercising their rights under US labor law.

“Fear of retaliation will exist unless the Memphis Seven, apparently terminated for their union support, are reinstated,” circuit judge Danny Boggs wrote for the court.

The decision could embolden the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces US labor law, to use the courts to aggressively police Starbucks’ labor practices as they also come under scrutiny from shareholders and the US Congress...

The Memphis store is one of nearly 300 Starbucks cafes in the United States to unionize since late 2021...

More than 600 complaints have been filed with the labor board accusing Starbucks of illegal labor practices such as firing union supporters, spying on workers and closing stores during labor campaigns.

The sixth circuit is considering Starbucks’s appeal of a February ruling in a separate case barring the company from firing or disciplining employees at a cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Other US appeals courts are considering rulings from the labor board that Starbucks illegally fired union organizers in Philadelphia and has refused to bargain with unionized workers in its home city of Seattle.

The company has broadly denied wrongdoing and said it offers employees competitive wages and benefits and respects their rights under federal labor law.