A Denver administrative law judge ruled Monday that Starbucks violated the National Labor Relations Act and had to reinstate a previously terminated employee at a Denver store — which had voted to unionize in May 2022 — and to also expunge warning letters from the records of two other employees.
Judge Amita Baman Tracy ordered Starbucks to not only reinstate the employee with backpay, but also to post a copy of the decision to the store for 60 days. In her decision, Judge Tracy found that Starbucks had violated the NLRA in multiple instances including when a store manager interrogated employees about their support of the union, threatened employees with loss of wage increases and promotions if they voted for the union along with a district manager, and threatened to call the police on employees. Two employees were issued written warnings in February, one of whom was fired in April.
“Having found that respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the act,” the ruling stated. “[the defendant] must offer Slopsema full reinstatement to his former job or, if the job no longer exists, to a substantially equivalent position […] and to make him whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits suffered as a result of the discrimination against him.”
This is not the first time a judge has ruled against Starbucks for violation of labor practices, including union-busting and unfair employee termination. In Aug. 2022, a federal judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate seven Memphis store workers who were fired during an attempt to unionize the store, in a very similar and highly publicized case. Starbucks and former employees with the National Labor Relations Board are facing off in dozens of court cases around the country, alleging instances of union busting, employee intimidation, and violation of the federal right to organize.
“This is a huge win for our organizing efforts. It’s truly a celebration of our collective efforts and we are grateful that all the hard work has paid off,” the regional union organizing committee said in a statement. “More importantly, there’s justice being served for those that were targeted and retaliated against during our union organizing. This is another step closer to reaching our goals of having a signed union contract.”
Currently, the National Labor Relations Board has issued 60 official complaints against Starbucks, totaling 1,200 labor violations nationally.
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