A federal judge has issued an injunction prohibiting Starbucks from firing employees who attempt to join a union and ordering the company to rehire an employee who claims to have been fired for unionizing.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled on Friday that Hannah Whitbeck, who was fired from her position as shift supervisor in April, should be given her position on an interim basis or a “substantially equivalent position” if her original position no longer exists without prejudice to rights. and privileges she had before.
Whitbeck argued in a lawsuit that she was fired because of her involvement in labor organization. Starbucks argued that Whitbeck was fired for leaving work early one time and forcing another employee to run a store alone for 20 to 30 minutes.
Goldsmith found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Starbucks was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Whitbeck was represented by Elizabeth Kerwin, the regional director for the Seventh Region of the National Labor Relations Board, which protects the right of private workers to associate.
Kerwin argued that Starbucks was aware of Whitbeck’s union activities and that the company was violating its own policies by firing her rather than giving her a warning. Starbucks argued that Whitbeck could not point to another case of an employee in a similar situation who received a final written warning for violating the rule that at least two employees must run a store at the same time.
Goldsmith did not comment on balancing the factual arguments of the two sides, but he felt Kerwin’s argument was sufficient to prevail at this stage of the case. He said in his ruling that “facts exist that could support the Starbucks liability theory that Kerwin has created”.
He ruled that Starbucks should not interfere, restrict, or coerce employees exercising their rights to join a union at a store in the United States.
The company must also post physical copies of Goldsmith’s order to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, store where Whitbeck worked, to communicate the decision to employees, the ruling said.
The warrant must also be read at a mandatory meeting for all employees to hear. Starbucks must file an affidavit stating that it complied with the court order within 21 days of the order being issued.
The Hill has reached out to Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United, the union that organizes Starbucks locations, for comment.
The union has reportedly accused Starbucks of firing more than 200 employees for their role with the organization.