Starbucks Hit With Lawsuit From Labor Board Over Anti-Union Employee Guidelines

In a new lawsuit against Starbucks, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is alleging that a number of the company’s employee guidelines are in violation of labor laws.

As the first reported by More Perfect Union, the lawsuit, issued on Wednesday, takes issue with 19 sections of the company’s “Partner Guide,” which the NLRB argues are “overly-broad and discriminatory” against workers’ rights.

Among the guidelines in violation of national labor laws allowing employees to freely form unions is the company’s dress code, which disallows workers from wearing clothing or even pins that display union symbols, according to the labor board. The company also places several restrictions on workers’ speech in violation of the law, the NLRB says, including banning workers from recording their working conditions through photo, video or audio mediums.

The handbook’s restrictions preventing workers from participating in unsanctioned interviews or generally discussing their working conditions are also an intrusion on their labor rights, the labor board finds. Altogether, the NLRB alleges that the rules all act in the service of “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees” from exercising their right to form a union.

Starbucks has been given until May 18 by the agency to respond to the lawsuit, before the June 14 court hearing. It is the largest legal effort so far by the NLRB to intervene in the company’s union-busting practices.

The NLRB filed several charges against the company over the past months alleging that it has repeatedly violated labor laws when it treated its employees. Labor board prosecutors found that the company illegally fired seven union organizers in Memphis, Tennessee; the workers made up nearly the entirety of that store’s union organizing group.

The NLRB has made similar charges over the company’s dismissal of pro-union employees Phoenix, ArizonaLast month and, A lawsuit was filedThe company was retaliated against for doing so. The agency claims that the terminations by Tyler Gillette, Laila Dlton, and Alyssa Sanchez were illegal retaliation against employees who unionized.

Starbucks will face legal consequences if they are successful in obtaining an injunction. This includes having to post the court order against them in their stores and reinstating the fired workers.

The company could also be in legal trouble due to a policy it announced earlier in the week. Workers will soon receive a wage increase to $15 an hour, or a 3 percent rise, depending on which is higher. Starbucks announces – but the higher wages won’t apply to unionized stores or stores currently in the middle of a union campaign.

Starbucks Workers United has filed charges against the move, saying that it’s clearly an attempt to discourage workers from forming unions.

“We have filed charges against Howard Schultz’s threats that union stores won’t receive these benefits. That’s not how labor law works and Starbucks knows it,” the union said. A unionized Buffalo storeFriday protested the change by going on strike

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