The retail industry has been challenged for some years now, not only because of increasing digitisation but also increasing inflationary pressures, as highlighted by a recent lawsuit against Starbucks by the US Labour Board. The company is being asked to reinstate a group of activist employees by labour officals in federal court, following allegations of employment retaliation.
According to the complaint, Starbucks retaliated against the three employees because of their union involvement, as well as their participation in a regulatory investigation. The claim seeks an injunction requiring the reinstatement of effected employees, and comes in response to dozens of allegations made against the company by unions, of which prosecutors have found merit in some.
With union campaigning surging through Starbucks stores, the lawsuit escalates the battle between the company and its employees. Beginning in 2021, a number of the company’s baristas, referred to as ”partners”, commenced unionisation into an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, which petitions on behalf of thousands of employees across the country.
In response, Starbucks has announced it does not agree with the labour board’s claims and that any claims of anti-union activity are categorically false, with employees right to organise being respected. Furthermore, the company reiterated that policies have been implemented to protect all stakeholders, and to ensure that its workplaces are welcoming and safe.
Starbucks was founded in 1971 as a coffee bean roaster and equipment retailer. Since its modest beginnings as a corner shop in downtown Seattle, the company has grown into a network of over 30,000 coffee houses in 84 countries across the world. Impressively, it continues to increase both revenue and profit despite the headwinds experienced by the sector at large.