Starbucks Hit With 'Ethical' Lawsuit Alleging Abuse, Bad Practices on Farms The National Consumers League filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily

Starbucks was hit with a lawsuit this week after a consumer group accused the chain of misleading claims that it's "committed to 100% ethical coffee sourcing."

The National Consumers League claimed that the coffee giant's farms perpetuated abuse, citing a case from 2022 when local authorities found that 17 employees on a coffee farm in Brazil were not provided protective equipment.

"We take allegations like these extremely seriously and are actively engaged with farms to ensure they adhere to our standards," Starbucks said in a statement, noting that the company planned to "aggressively defend against the asserted claims."

Related: Starbucks Odyssey NFT's Sell Out in Minutes

The lawsuit alleged that Starbucks farms "have committed documented, severe human rights and labor abuses, including the use of child labor and forced labor as well as rampant and egregious sexual harassment and assault," also citing a report from BBC in 2023 that claims sexual harassment and "gender-based violence" were occurring at a Starbucks tea supplier in Kenya. Starbucks immediately suspended sourcing from the farm upon the report.

Starbucks's website claims that its coffee is 99% ethically sourced.

"Starbucks coffee is verified 99% ethically sourced. We are working with other industry leaders to make coffee the first sustainable agricultural product," the company says. "We plan to invest in training and financing for coffee farmers and provide 100 million coffee trees by 2025."

Related: Starbucks Slammed By Customers For 'No Water' Price Increase

The coffee chain had a strong year, reporting a 39% increase in net earnings for Q4 of fiscal 2024 as compared to the year prior, with operating income jumping over 42% in the same period.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur's request for comment.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Solutions

Get a Lifetime of Web Hosting for $90 for a Limited Time

Don't miss this special price drop, this week only (regularly $899).


Are You a Great Leader or an Average Leader? Use This Chart to Find Out.

The new book, "Stop the Shift Show," breaks down the qualities of those who really know how to get the best out of employees.

Growing a Business

Celebrity Chef Maneet Chauhan Shares Her Best Tip for Aspiring TV Chefs

Chef and restaurateur Maneet Chauhan discusses the reality of being a chef, sharing stories online and becoming a food TV personality.

Growing a Business

Expand Your Knowledge and Unlock Success With These Must-Read Business Books

Top business books to ignite your entrepreneurial journey.

Health & Wellness

How Taking Up Boxing Transformed My Outlook on Entrepreneurship

Few things have taught me more about entrepreneurship than getting into boxing. Here are the three most important lessons I've learned from my time in the ring.