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NLRB Region-15 Wins Injunction Requiring Starbucks to Rehire Seven Unlawfully Fired Workers, Post the Court’s Order, and Cease and Desist from Unlawful Activities

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On August 18, 2022, U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman of the District Court of Western Tennessee issued an injunction requiring Starbucks to reinstate seven unlawfully fired workers, rescind and expunge unlawful discipline issued to an employee, post the Court’s Order and translations in other languages, and cease and desist from unlawful activities.  

The injunction was issued based on a petition for temporary injunctive relief filed by Region 15 Regional Director Kathleen McKinney in May. Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act authorizes the National Labor Relations Board to seek injunctions against employers and unions in federal district courts to stop unfair labor practices where, due to the passage of time, the normal Board processes are likely to be inadequate to effectively remedy the alleged violations. 

The petition explained that, after learning about the organizing effort, Starbucks directed a wide variety of coercive measures at its employees, including: disciplining the employee responsible for starting the campaign; more closely supervising its employees; closing the area of the store on days organizers had previously invited the public and customers to come to show support for the campaign; and removing all pro-union materials from the community bulletin board inside the store, including notes authored by customers expressing support for the employees and their campaign. Then, following increased media coverage and public support for the campaign, Starbucks terminated seven Union activists all on the same day, including five of the six members of the union organizing committee. 

"Today's federal court decision ordering Starbucks to reinstate the seven unlawfully fired Starbucks workers in Memphis is a crucial step in ensuring that these workers, and all Starbucks workers, can freely exercise their right to join together to improve their working conditions and form a union,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “Starbucks, and other employers, should take note that the NLRB will continue to vigorously protect workers’ right to organize without interference from their employer." 

“I’m proud of my employees for their hard work on this case,” said Region 15-New Orleans Regional Director Kathleen McKinney. “Region 15’s staff is dedicated to effectuating the National Labor Relations Act—including ensuring workers’ ability to freely choose whether or not they want union representation.”  

A union election was held at the Memphis store at which this unlawful activity occurred. The workers voted for representation by Workers United and the representative was certified on June 15, 2022. The employer must now bargain in good faith with the union.  

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.