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Starbucks in Hot Water With U.S. Labor Board

The National Labor Relations Board has sued the coffee giant over alleged retaliation efforts against three employees involved in organizing a union.


The National Relations Board is suing Starbucks after the coffee chain allegedly took direct and unjust action against three employees involved in unionization efforts. In a press release last Friday, NLRB demanded "injunctive relief for victims of unfair labor practices."

The lawsuit claims Starbucks promptly retaliated against the employees – or as Starbucks calls them, "partners" – by disciplining, suspending and discharging one, "constructively" firing another and putting a third on unpaid leave of absence.

NLRB has asked the court to require Starbucks to restore the employees' jobs, schedules and accommodations as usual, but the lawsuit has instigated a game of pointing fingers. Starbucks claims the allegations are not only untrue, but that the individuals in question are also the ones who violated company policies and in some cases broke state law, which they did not elaborate on – thus resulting in their termination.

"A partner's interest in union representation does not exempt them from the standards we've put in place to protect partners, customers, and the communities that we serve," a Starbucks spokesperson shared with Yahoo Finance.

Starbucks also filed two complaints with NLRB early last week, claiming that Workers United affiliates violated federal labor laws by "intimidating" members of its staff in and Phoenix.

Related: Starbucks Workers in Buffalo Vote to Create First-Ever Union

Still, Workers United and NLRB remain confident and firm in their efforts, and it could just mark the beginning of an arduous battle with the coffee giant. "We fully expect that this is the first of many future petitions the NLRB will pursue against Starbucks," Workers United said in a statement to CNN Business, "until the company is held accountable for its violations of our right to organize."

Since an increasing number of unionization efforts have emerged across the country, more than 100 charges of Unfair Labor Practices have been filed against the company.

Related: Viral Video Exposes Difference In Starbucks Workers' Salaries

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