In a ruling on Friday, Starbucks was barred by a federal judge-issued order from firing workers who are trying to unionize, also ordering the company to rehire a former employee who was allegedly fired over union organizing.
In line with the ruling of US District Judge Mark Goldsmith, Starbucks must offer Hannah Whitbeck her position on an interim basis back or, if her original post no longer exists, offer her a substantially equivalent position without any prejudice to the rights and privileges Whitbeck had before she was fired.
Although Starbucks argued that Whitbeck was fired after she left work early on one occasion and forced another worker to manage a store alone for half an hour, the lawsuit Whitbeck filed claimed that she was fired because of her involvement in labor organizing.
Judge Goldsmith established that there was reasonable cause to believe that Starbucks violated the National Labor Relations Act.
He ruled that his order also must be read at a mandatory meeting for all employees to hear whereas Starbucks must also post physical copies of his order at its Michigan store where Whitbeck worked, to communicate the decision to employees, and must – within 21 days of the order being issued – file an affidavit declaring that it has complied with the ruling of the court.
According to his ruling, the company is barred from interfering with, restraining, or coercing any of its employees at any store in the United States to exercise their rights to unionize.
The union that is organizing at Starbucks locations, Starbucks Workers United, has reportedly accused the company of firing more than 200 workers because of their role in union organizing.
The regional director for the seventh region of the National Labor Relations Board, Elizabeth Kerwin, who represented Whitbeck, argued that Starbucks was aware of her union activities and that by firing her instead of issuing her a warning, the company has violated its own policies.
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